I c). n -
MR. WELLS HdS ALSO WRITTEN THE FOLLOWING
The Wheels of Chance.
Love and Mr. Lewisham,
The New Machiavclli.
The Passionate Friends.
The Wife of Sir Isaac Kantian,
The Research Magnificent.
Mr. Britling 1 Sees It Through*
The Soul of a Bishop.
Joan and Peter.
The Undying Fire,
The Secret Places of the Heart.
Christina Alberta's Father.
The World of William Clis-
THE FOLLOWING FANTASTIC AND
The Time Machine.
The Wonderful Visit
The Island of Dr, Moreau.
The Invisible Man.
The War of the Worlds.
The Sleeper Awakes.
The First Men in the Moon,
The Sea Lady,
The Food of the Gods,
In the Days of the Comet,
The War in the Air.
The World Set Free.
Men Like Gods*
NUMEROUS SHORT STORIES COLLECTED UNDER THE
The Stolen Bacillus. Talea of Space and Time.
The Plattner Story* Twelve Stories and a Dream.
THE SAME SHORT STORIES WILL ALSO KB fOUND W
Tales of the Unexpected* Tales of Life ami Adventure,
Talcs of Wonder,
A OP BOOKS OF SOCIAL, KEUGIOVS AND
A Modern Utopia*
The* Future in America,
New Worlds for Old.
First and Last Tittup.
God thtf Invisible* Kinj*.
Tlii* Outline of History, A Year tf
In the Shadows* l)rm<Tu'y under
The Salv.itfitift of C
Washington and the Hope of
A Short lINtory of the
Tlw* Story of a (Jwtt 5
And two little, banks about children^ pl*iy* r*i!l**l **I'*toor C
('The 'Picture of a Lady}
BY H. G. WELLS
GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
BY GEORGE II. PORAN COMPANY
FIRST PRINTING IN AMERICA, AUGUST, I'll?
PRtNTKD IN TltK UNITKU HTATKS OP
ONE clay about the time of the general strike
in England I visited the celebrated garden of
La M or tola near Ventimiglia. As I wan-
dered about that lovely place, I passed by an un-
known little lady sitting and reading in a shady cor-
ner. Her pose reminded me of another little lady
who has always been very dear to me. She was
making notes upon a slip of paper as she read. I
noted how charmingly intent she was upon her book
and wondered what it was that held her so firmly.
1 never discovered. 1 do not know who she was and
1 have never seen her again. In all probability she
was a tourist like myself and quite unaware that
she was destined, in my fancy, to become the mistress
of all the beauty about her, She in part and in part
the lady she had recalled. I went my way to the
beach and sat there and as I mused on things that
were happening in England and Italy and the world
at large, that remembered and reinforced personality
mingled with my thoughts, became a sort of frame
for my thoughts, and this story very much as I have
shaped it here presented itself suddenly to my imag-
ination. It jumped into existence. Much of it had
been in my mind for some time lacking a form and
a personification. Then all at once it was alive.
I went home and I began to write. The gar-
den of this book is by no means a replica of the gar-
den of La Mortola, which was merely the inspiring
point of departure for this fantasia of ideas, this pic-
ture of a mind and of a world in a phase of expecta-
tion. Gorge and Caatinga you will seek at La Mor-
tola in vain. But all sorts of things grow upon that
wonderful corner of sunlit soil, and this novel, which
I dedicate very gratefully to the real owners of the
garden, gratefully and a little apologetically because
of the freedoms I have taken with their home, is only
the least and latest product of its catholic fertility.
H. G. WELLS,
BOOK THE FIRST
TJie Utopograplier in the Garden,,
BOOK THE SECOND
BOOK THE FIRST
THE UTOPOGRAPHER IN THE GARDEN
THE UTOPOGRAPHER IN THE GARDEN
I. THE HOSTESS EXPLAINS
2, BROACHING THE TALKER
4. THE GREAT AGE THAT COMES
| 5. THE IDEA OF MEANWHILE
6. REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
7. IN THE CAATINGA. i
8. IN THIS CAATINGA. il
9, APPARITION OF MRS. K.YLANDS
10. THE HALL OF CASA TERRAGENA
| ii. Two LETTERS
12, STOIC AND EPICUREAN
BOOK THE FIRST
The Utopographer In the Garden
THE room was long and lof ty, a room o scar-
let hangings and pale brown stone, unillumi-
nated as yet by any of its red-shaded electric
lights. There were two great Italianate fire-places
with projecting canopies of carved stone 5 in one, the
olive logs were unlit, in the other the fire, newly
begun, burnt and crackled cheerfully^ its leaping
tongues of flame rejoiced and welcomed the evening.
Bare expanses of the beeswaxed floor, sharp edges of
the massive furniture, metallic studs and rods and
handles and a big inkstand of brass responded by a
gay waving of reflections to these glad Hallos. The
curtains were not drawn, and the outer world by con-
trast with this intimate ruddy tumult seemed very
cold and still and remote. The tall window at one
end gave upon the famous garden which rose steeply
behind the house, terrace above terrace, a garden half
phantasmal now in the twilight, with masses of pallid
blossom foaming over old walls, with winding steps,
mighty old jars, great dark trees happily placed, and
a profusion of flowers, halted and paraded^ by the
battalion, by the phalanx, their colours still glowing,
but seen beneath deeps of submerging blue, unsub-
stantial and mysteriously profound as they dissolved
away Into the gloaming. The other window stared
out at the unruffled Mediterranean^ dark ultramarine
under the fading afterglow of a serene sunset*
A small^ fragile^ dark-haired woman in a green
dress crouched musing in one corner of the long sofa
before the firej her hands clutched the back and her
cheek rested on her hands; the reflections danced
upon her necklace and bracelet and earrings and the
buckles of her shoes, caressed her pretty arms and
lit her eyes. Her expression was one of tranquil con-
tentment In that big room she was like some minute
bright insect in the corolla of a gigantic red and
At the sound of footsteps in the passage "Without
she sighedj and moving lazily } turned au expectant
face to the open door behind hen
There appeared a very exquisite little gentleman
of sonic sixty-odd years* Grey hair streaked with
brown flowed back gracefully from a finely modelled
face that ended in a neatly pointed beard. The com-
plexion was warm and delicate. At the first glance
you would have said he is Spanish and lie is* wax; and
he was neither* But indeed it was as though a Velas-
quez portrait had left its proper costume upstairs and
dressed for dinner* For a moment this pleasant ap-
parition stood clasping its white hands with a sort of
confident diffidence, and then came forward with an
easy gesture* lc Ah-ah! My hostess! 1 * ho said.
She held out her hand to him with an indolent
smile and did not seem hi the least surprised that: lie
took it and kissed it*
"Come and sit down by the fire here/ 1 she suidL
W I am so glad you have come to ust again, Mr*
Plantagenet-Buchan* Did they look after you
THE HOSTESS EXPLAINS
fully? We got back from Monte Carlo scarcely half
an hour ago."
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan strolled round the sofa,
held out his carefully cherished hands to the blaze,
and decided after due consideration to stand rather
droopingly by the fireside. "You are sure I am not
"You just complete us* There was one room free."
"That pretty room in the tower. Every way, east,
west, north and south, one has a view."
She did not explain that dear accommodating Miss
Fenimore had been bustled up to the dependence
when his telegram came. She had other things in
her mind. "You arrived in the afternoon?"
"I lunched on the train. I hired an irresistible
automobile at the station. It was painted aluminium
colour and adorned with a banner bearing the mys-
tical word c Shell.* And such a courteously exorbitant
driver! Although it was sight-seeing day for your
gardens and the road at your gates was choked with
cars and char-a-bancs, all your servants, even the por-
ter lady, received me as though I was the one thing
they needed to round off their happiness. Your ma-
jor-domo almost fondled me. Yes, Bombaccio with
the Caruso profile. Yours is the perfect household."
"You have seen none of your fellow guests?"
He reflected, "I have a slight suspicion For-
mally, no. Your major-domo gave me tea in my own
room and afterwards I strolled about your gardens
and heard them praised in most European languages
as well as my mother tongue. One or two Germans.
1 may be old-fashioned but I don't feel a European
show-place is complete without an occasional c pracht-
volP or c wie schon!* I've a sneaking pleasure in
their return. I feel I may be bullied for it but I
can't help having it."
His hostess made no attempt to bully him.
He became enthusiastic over some flower in blue
spikes ? that was new to him.
The lady on the sofa disregarded the blue spikes.
"There were one or two people about/ 1 she reflected
aloud. "There was Lady Grieswokl She won't go
to Monte Carlo because she loses her head. And
always afterwards she is sorry she didn't go to Monte
Carlo because it might have been one of her good
days* Did you see her? But probably she went for
a walk up in the hills with Miss Fenimore* to avoid
Mr. Sempack. And then there was Mr, Sempaek?*
"Sempack," said Mr, Plantagenet-Buchan. "Sem-
pack?" and consulted his toes.
"Yes," said the lady with a sudden hopefulness in
her manner, "Mr. Sempack?" Her eyes were Jess
dreamy. She wanted to know.
"In some connection "
"Yes, But in what connection ? M
Mr- Pkntagenet-Buchan went off at a tangent,
"As I have walked about the gardens A presence
. * Most of your sight-seeing visitors are transi-
tory j they make a round and they go. Or they
make two rounds and go. But there has liocu ow
The lady thrust out her pretty profile in expecta-
"Rather like a dissenting minister/* he tried, feel-
ing his way. "With that sort of hat* And yet not
a real, dissenting minister, not one of God's
THE HOSTESS EXPLAINS
Her eager face assured him he was on the right
"A dissenting minister^ let us say 5 neither born nor
created, not a natural product, but how shall I put
it? painted by Augustus John! Very fine but
slightly incredible. Legs endless legs and arms.
I mean as to length, Tree-like."
He considered judicially. "More ungainly yes,
even more ungainly than Robert Cecil."
"Yes," she said in a loud whisper and glanced
guiltily over her shoulder at the open door behind
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan folded his arms and bit a
knuckle. "So that is Mr. Sempack! I saw him.
Several times. We kept on meeting. The more we
tried not to meet, we met. We sat about in remote
corners and even then fate seemed to draw us to-
gether- Sempack ! "
"You know about him?"
"I've heard of the great Mr. Sempack, yes."
"He writes books," she supplied helpfully.
"Real books, dear lady. Not books you read.
Not novels. Not memoirs. Books that are just
books. Like Santayana. Or Lowes Dickinson. Or
"You've read some?"
"No. Pve always hoped to meet him and save
myself that duty, It is a duty. They say They
say he talks better than he writes. How did he
"Philip met him* He brought him along from
the Roqudbrune people,"
"Philip wanted to know if there was going to be
a coal strike. He's fussed about the coal strike."
"Did Mr. Sempack tell him?"
"Philip hasn't asked. Yet."
"I don't think that's Sempack's sort of subject, but
one never knows. He might throw some side-lights
on the matter."
"So far/' said the lady, with reflective eyes on the
fire, "he hasn't been very much of a talker. In
fact He hardly talks at all."
"Not his reputation."
"Intelligently out of it."
"Something not quite conducive in the atmos-
"He seemed almost to be beginning once or twice.
But perhaps they interrupt. He sits about in the
garden in that large dispersed way of his, saying
he's perfectly happy and refusing to go anywhere.
Sometimes he writes in a little notebook. I don't
think he's unhappy but he seems rather a waste,"
"You'd like him to talk?"
"We never do get any talk here. Pel love to hear
"Now I wonder," said Mr, Plantagcnct-Buchan
and consulted his ring again* "What did 1 see, the
other day?" He stuck up a finger and held it out
towards her. "Utopias!" he said, "Quite lately.
It must have been in some review- Quite recently*
In the Nation I think, Or the Literary
Yes. I have it. He has been reading and writing
about all the Utopias in the world- He's a Uto-
The lady seemed to weigh the possible
THE HOSTESS EXPLAINS
of the word. "But what has that to do with the
"Nothing whatever that I can see. 57
There was a momentary pause. "Philip jumps at
things/' she remarked.
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan knitted his brows.
"Utopographer? Or was it a Utopologist? Or Uto-
politan? Not a bad word., Utopolitan. No it was
Utopographer. I read it in one of the weeklies
downstairs, the Spectator or the Nation or the Sat-
urday. "We might lead the talk rather carelessly
towards Utopias and see what happened."
"We have some awful interrupters here. They
don't listen and suddenly they shout out something
about something else. Something just silly. It
may put him off his subject. 37
"Then we must pull the talk back to the subject."
"70^ may. But he 7 s difficult. He's difficult.
They disregard him and he seems to disregard them
and effaces everything from his mind. When they
interrupt he just loses them in thought and the meal.
But he's not unhappy. He likes being here. He
says so. He likes Philip. He likes Catherine. It is
quite evident he likes Catherine. I think he has been
talking to Catherine a little in the garden. 77
"Is Lady Catherine here? 77
"Lovelier than even Her divorce has made her
ten years younger. She's twenty-five. She's
eighteen. And- it's funny but she evidently finds
something attractive about Mr. Sempack. And nat-
urally he finds something attractive about her. He
isn't at all the sort of man I should have expected her
to find attractive* But of course if she goes and
carries him off and makes him talk about his Utopias
or whatever they do talk about when she gets him
alone, there will be no getting him to talk at large-
Hell be drained."
Her consultant quite saw that
a We must think of a plan of campaign," he
brooded. "Broaching the talker. As a dinner table
sport. Now what have we given? An interest in
Utopias. I don ? t think we must use the actual word,
c Utopia ? . . . No ... I wonder if 1 should find
that review downstairs.* 5
From far away came the sound of high heels
clicking on a marble staircase. His hostess became
very rapid. "That's Catherine!" she said in paren-
thesis. "The other people." She ticked the names
off on her fingers ineffectively. "There's a Colonel
Bullace. A great admirer of Joynson-Hicfcs, He
wants to organise British Fascists. Keep the work-
ing man down and save him from agitators and all
that Adores Mussolini. His wife's a darling.
Rather a prosy darling if you let her talk, but end-
lessly kind. Then there's a couple of tennis-play-
ers. They just play tennis. And improve Philip's
game. It tries him dreadfully having his game
improvedj but he do it. What a
tennis is nowadays,, isn't it? Mathison's the name*
And Geoffrey Rylands is here Philip's brother* A
foursome. Too good for any of the others. Am!
there's clear Miss Femmore* lady Grieswold 1 told
you. And young Lord and Lady Tamar* at
Geneva, doing things for the League of Nations.
Such a fine young couple. Oh! and
Puppy Clargcs and some one eke let me see *
J said the Bui laces, didn't I? . ."
The clicking heels halted in the doorway,
BROACHING THE TALKER
"Lady Catherine P said Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan*
A tali young woman^ with a lovely body sheathed
in pale gold, dusky-haired, dark-blue eyed s smiled at
them both. She had a very engaging smile ? impu-
dent, friendly, disarming. Her wide gaze swept the
"Isn't Mr. Sempack down? ?3 she asked her
And then remembering her manners she advanced
to greet Mr, Plantagenet-Buchan.
"Come and conspire with us, Catherine, 5 ' said Mrs,
Rylands after a little pause for reflection. "Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan says Mr. Sempack is a great
talker. So far except perhaps to you he's buried
his talent Come and tell us how we are to get him.
talking to-night. 3?
THEY did it between them and there was
wonderful talking that night, a talk that
delighted Mrs. Rylands altogether. It was
like the talks her mother used to tell of in the great
days of Clouds and Stanway, in the happy eighties
when Lady Elcho and all the "Souls" were young
and Lord Balfour was "Mr. Arthur** and people
used to read Robert Louis Stevenson's Talk and
Talkers m the hope of improving their style. Mr*
Plantagenet-Buchan was bright and skilful and Lady
Catherine was characteristically generous in giving
away a vintage that might have been reserved for
her alone, and Philip most unexpectedly helped with
one intelligent question and Lord Tamar with two.
Mr. Sempack once started, proved to be as great a
talker as his reputation demanded, he could interest
and inform and let in contributors while keeping
them in order, and the evening was tremendously en-
tertaining and quite different from any other evening
over which Mrs. Rylands had presided at Casa
There were moments of difficulty. The Mathi-
sons were visibly disconcerted and alarmed by the
strong, persistent drive towards such high-brow and
devastating topics as what was going to happen to
the world, what could be made to happen to the
world, and how things could be made to happen*
Their eyes met in only too evident protest against
such a rot 7 * The evening before they had had quite
a good time, comparing notes with Geoffrey Rylands
and Puppy Clarges about the different tennis courts
upon the Riviera and shouting, <c Oh! that's a scorcher
if you like!" or "Talk about a cinder track!" and
expressing opinions about the ankles of Miss Wills
and the terrible and scandalous dispute about the
balls and whether Suzanne was ever likely to marry,
nice sensible stuff, as it seemed to them* Now they
were pushed aside. They couldn't get in. Nor
could Geoffrey nor Puppy help them* These four
were scattered among the high-brows. Colonel Bui-
lace was interested positively interested, In a hostile
way indeed,, but interested. Once he Interrupted*
And Mrs* Bullace got loose for a time with a story
about how down in Ventimiglia that day slue had at-
tempted to rescue a donkey from ill-treatment by a
man it didn't belong to, and who wasn't, as a mat-
ter of fact, ill-treating it, and indeed who possibly
had never been aware of the existence of the donkey
until she called his attention to it, and how nice
BROACHING THE TALKER
everybody had been about it ? and had taken her part-
when the man became insulting. She began it unex-
pectedly and apropos of nothing. "Ow," she said
suddenly, "such a funny thing!" But that had been
a lacuna, and the great talk 'was joined up again be-
fore she had nearly done.
The great talk had reassembled itself after every
interruption and triumphed over all that might have
slain it in its immaturity and grown into a great edi-
fice of interest. After dinner and a little interlude
the men came up, and while the low-brow contin-
gent was excreted to the bridge tables, the interested
people gathered as a matter of course round the fire
and went on talking. They went on talking and it
was a great success, and little Mrs. Rylands felt that
even Lady Elcho or Lady Sassoon, bright stars in
her mother's memories, could never have presided
over a better one. And at midnight, they were still
talking, Mr. Sempack talking, Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan talking, Catherine talking, the Tamars both
interested (unless she was pretending awfully
well), Philip hanging on every word unexpected
Philip could be at times! Miss Fenimore drinking
it in. But she would drink anything in; it was her
role. Even Colonel Bullace, whenever he was
dummy, came and listened, and he was mostly
dummy with such a chronic over-caller as Lady
Grieswold for a partner.
It was wonderful how varied and yet how con-
sistent the great talk was, how its topics went about
and around and interwove and remained parts of
one topic. Mrs. Rylands was reminded of a phrase
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan had used once for some
music, a a cathedral of sound*" This was a cathedral
of ideas. A Gothic cathedral. Everything said had
a sort of freedom and yet everything belonged.
THAT evening had been tremendously enter-
taining, a glory, a thing to remember, but
though the spirit may be extremely spirited
the flesh is often weak.
At midnight Mrs. Rylands suddenly gave way-
Right up to the moment of her crisis her attention
had been held quite pleasantly, then suddenly it van-
ished. Abruptly she went like sour milk in thundery
weather. Fatigue smote her and an overwhelming
desire to close and put away the great talk and go to
There was no phase of transition. It was like a
clock striking suddenly on her brain. It said,
"Enough, You have listened enough. You have
looked intelligent enough. They have all had
enough* Pack them off to bed and go to bed your-
She sat up on one o the pedestals that stood on
either side of the fire and nothing in her pensive
and appreciative pose betrayed the swift change
within her* A moment before she had been t happy
hostess blessing her gathering. Now she waited
an assassin for the moment to strike, and all her
soul was hostile. And they went on, Mr,
talking, Mr* Hantagcnct-Buchan talking, Catherine
talking, the Tamars interested (unless stw
tending awfully well), Philip hanging on every
and Mm Fenimore drinking it in. They go
on for hours yet-~hours!
Mrs. Rylands invented something. She invented
it in an instant. It flashed into her mind completed
and exact. She would have it made directly she
got to London, and bring it back with her next winter.
A solid looking brass clock to go with the big ink-
stand on the table. It should strike just once in a
day. Every twenty-four hours it should strike ?
slowly, impressively, imperatively midnight.
Never anything else. Midnight. Or perhaps to
bring it home to them, fourteen or fifteen. Or four
and twenty sound and full. The evening curfew.
Why had no one thought of such clocks before?
And sometimes one would put it on and sometimes
one would put it back, and if it had a little stud
somewhere that one could touch or make Philip
touch without any one else noticing it, one might
prevent it striking. . * . Or just Wow everybody to
bits by making it strike. * . .
In the natural course of things the bridge players
started the go-to-bed break-up before half-past
eleven, but to-night the bridge was bewitched it
seemed. It made a background of muffled sounds to
the great talk. Every one was overcalling over there j
that was quite plain; tempers were going to pieces,
and the games were holding out obstinately beneath
vast avalanches of penalties that impended above the
line. Sounds of subdued quarrelling came from
Mrs. Bullacc and Lady Grieswold. Each had ar-
rived at the stage of hatred for her partner. At the
other table Geoffrey was losing facetiously to the
Mathisons, a close-playing couple, and Puppy was
getting more and more acridly witty. Who was it
sitting just hidden by the bowl of roses? Mr. Haul-
bowline, Mrs* Bullace's partner. It was Mr. Haul-
bowline that Mrs. Rylands had forgotten when she
had given the list of her guests to Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan. Why did one always forget Mr. Haulbow-
The current of Mrs. Rylands 7 thoughts was inter-
rupted. Something she realised had taken her by the
cheeks and throat, something she knew she must con-
trol at any cost, a tension of the muscles. Just in
time she bit her finger and suppressed the yawn, and
then with a stem effort brought her mind back to
the great talk. Now it was Mr. Sempack who was
talking, and it seemed to her he was talking as
though the only person in the room was Lady Cath-
erine. Was that imagination? It was remarkable
how those two entirely incongruous people attracted
each other. They certainly did attract each other.
When Mr. Sempack looked at Lady Catherine his
eyes positively glowed.
It was astonishing that any woman could be at-
tracted by Mr. Sempack. He was so entirely differ-
ent from Philip. It was wonderful how cleverly
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan had hit him off. Of course
now that he was in evening dress he was not so much
like a dissenting minister, but he was still incredibly
gawky. It was clever of Mr* Plantagenet-Buchan
to have thought of Lord Cecil Mr, Sempack really
was more gawky than Lord Cecil; more* How
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan observed things! And
how acute and intimate it was of him -since he was
American to call him Robert Cecil still. Gawky I
Mr. Sempack was the gawkiest man she had ever
looked at. He became monstrous as she scrutinised
him, fie became a black blot on the scene, that had
the remotest resemblance to a human form. His
joints made her think of a cow, just as Philip's al-
ways made her think of a cat. It was awful to think
how he could be joined together at the joints. Her
pensive pose permitted her to examine his foot; his
far-flung foot as he sat deep in the sofa. He had
crossed his legs and his foot seemed to be held out
for inspection. It waved about as if it challenged
comment. His shoe reminded her of a cattle boat
adapted to passenger service. His socks fell in folds
over his ankle. Probably this man whom every one
was listening to as if he was an oracle, had never
found out there were such things as sock suspenders
in the world. An oracle who had never heard of sock
suspenders! It was quite possible. Men were in-
credibly stupid especially intellectual men about
everything of practical importance in the world.
Even what they knew they couldn't apply, whereas
a woman could apply even what she didn't know.
. , . They didn't know when to leave off. ... Or,
she suddenly amended, they left off too soon.
Above the sock an inch of healthily hairy skin dis-
played itself and then a thin edge of Jaeger under-
clothing. Undyed, all-wool, slightly frayed under-
clothing. And Catherine found him attractive!
Very probably if Philip wasn't looked after
he'd No, it was impossible. He was like a dif-
ferent sort of animal. He would pull up his socks
Mrs* Rylands, with !an expression of intelligent
attention, considered her guest's face. No one could
have guessed from her quiet eyes that her reason had
fled and only an imp was left in possession.
His bones, this imp remarked, positively ran wild
tinder his skin as he talked* What could one call
such features? Rambling? Roughhewn? ^ It was
like a handsome face seen through a distorting mir-
ror. It was like one of those cliffs where people find
a resemblance to a face. There was a sort of
strength, a massiveness. The chin. It was a hygienic
chin; the sort of chin people wear so as to give fair
play to every toe. . . .
Mrs. Rylands had a momentary feeling that she
was falling asleep. What had she been thinking
about? About his chin chins and toes She
meant his chin was like the toe of a sensible boot,
not pointed. It was really a double chin. Not a
downwards double, not fat, but a sideways double
chin. "Cleft" did they call it? And the nose one
might call shapely different on each side, but
shapely on each side. A nose with a lot of character
but difficult to follow. And big! Like the nose
Mr. Gladstone grew in his late clays. For people's
noses grow longer and longer all their lives*
This nose how would it end? Something thought-
ful about those deep overhung eyes there was, and
the wrinkles made them seem kindly and humorous.
But why didn't some one tell a man like that to get
his eyebrows cut? There was no need to have such
eyebrows, no need whatever. Unkempt* Sprouting.
Bits of hair on his cheeks too, A face that ought to
be weeded. She would not look at his cawfor
Sonic woman ought to take him in hand. But not
Catherine! That would be Beauty and the Beast,
How venturesome Catherine was! had
1 Us voice was not unpleasant. Perhaps it wan his
voice that attracted Catherine*
lit was saying: "Work. We have to work far the
sake of the work and take happiness for the wild
flower it is. Some day men will grow their happi-
nesses in gardens, a great variety of beautiful happi-
nesses, happinesses under glass, happinesses all the
year round. Such things are not for us. They will
come. Meanwhile "
"Meanwhile/' Lord Tamar echoed in a tone of
edification. Just the word. He was really looking
up at Mr* Sempack, He, too, was attracted. Lady
Tamar's emotional response also was very convincing.
But what were they talking about? Her garden?
Happiness in little pots, happiness bedded out?
Mrs, Rylands blinked to make sure she was awake.
Then came a pause and Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan
delivered himself. a l perceive I have been mean-
whiling all my life. Meanwhiling. . . Have I
been living? You make me question it. Have I
just been meanwhiling away my life? 3 *
He paused and seemed faintly dissatisfied with
what he had said. a Eheu! fugaces," he sighed.
It sounded awfully eleven And rather sad in a
brilliant sort of way. But what it meant now, was
another matter. She had lost the thread long ago.
Bother! Mrs. Rylands roused herself to smile
brightly at Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan. Anyhow, it
was as if they were coming to some sort of con-
clusion and she felt she must offer him every en-
couragement, Then, with a sudden determination,
she stood up. She could endure this talk no longer.
After all, it was her house. The bridge parties far
away down the room came to her aid, belatedly like
Blucher, but now they came*
"Game ! w shouted Puppy, "And the two hundred
and fifty ought to save us from the worst of it.
We ? re well out of it, partner ! "
A great stirring of chairs. Both bridge tables on
the move. Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan also standing
up. Lady Tamar standing up. Every one on the
move, thank God! Philip guiding Colonel Bullacc
quite needlessly to the drinks on the far table. Mr.
Haulbowline following Colonel Bullace, unobtru-
sively but resolutely, like a pointer following a Scotch
terrier. Suddenly the men remember that Puppy
will take a whisky, Mr. Haulbowline stands aside and
Colonel Bullace pours out her allowance with an air
of having approached the tray for that sole purpose.
The other tray? The other tray is all right.
Geoffrey is getting lemonade for Lady Cather-
ine. . . .
Now was the moment for the hostess to say: "We
have had a wonderful talk to-night, Mr. Scmpacfc*
You scatter ideas like a fir tree scatters pollen? 1
She had thought of that in the interlude after din-
ner, while all the women were saying things about
him* He did scatter ideas. She had said it over to
herself several times since, to make sure it was still
there. But what she said was: "You scatter pollen
like a freeze scats idccse* I hope you will sleep
well, Mr. Sempack^ and not hear too much of the
She said her little sentence rather rapidly and me-
chanically, because she had repeated It over too often;
she touched his knuckly hand and smiled her sweetest
and left him bowing. In the passage she let her
yawn loose and the happy thing nearly dislocated her
It was only when she was undressing that she
THE GREAT AGE THAT COMES
realised with a start what it was she had said. Never !
But she was horribly certain about it. "Freeze scats
ideese?" or had it been "Fleeze"? What could he
have made of it?, Perhaps now, with that vast seri-
ous expression of his on that vast serious face, he was
repeating it over to himself upstairs.
It was hopeless even to try to make Philip un-
derstand what she was laughing at. So she just
laughed and laughed, and then Philip lifted her up
in his arms and kissed her and soothed her, and she
cried a tear or so for no particular reason, Philip being
such a dear, and then she was put into bed somehow
and went to sleep.
And the last thing she heard was Philip reproach-
ing himself. "I ought to have sent you to bed be-
fore, my little wife. You've tired your dear self
TO many hearers the great talk that was set
going in Casa Terragena by Mr. Sempack,
would have seemed far less wonderful and
original than it did to Mrs. Rylands and the group
of young people with her that listened to him. For,
after all, it was little more than a gathering together
and a fitting together of the main creative suggestions
for the regulation of human affairs that have accu-
mulated so richly in the last few score years. It did
not seem in the least wonderful to Mr, Plantagenet-
Buchan, though he allowed it to Interest and amuse
him. Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan was quite sure he had
heard it all before, but then, like most highly culti-
vated and Europeanised Americans, he had trained
himself to feel in that way about everything^ and to
smile gently and to intimate it quietly ? with a sort of
conspicuous unobtrusiveness. He knew that the one
thing forbidden to an American was to be naive. An
American to hold his own must not rest under that
suspicion. He must never be naive, never surprised,
never earnest. Only by the most inflexible tortu-
osity, by the most persistent evasiveness, by an ex-
quisite refinement sustained with iron resolution, and
a cynicism that never fails to be essential, can he hope
to establish his inaccessible remoteness from either
Log Cabin or White House; and maintain his self-
respect among the sophistication of Europe.
So Mr, Plantagcnet-Buchan played the part of a
not too urgently needed prompter to Mr, Sempack,
helped him out discreetly, and ticked off his points as
he made them with the air of one fully prepared for
everything that came.
The ground effect of Mr. Sempack upon which all
his other effects were built, was his large and unchal-
lengeable intimation of the transitory and provisional
nature of the Institutions and customs ami usages, the
forms and appliances and resources amidst which he
and his Interlocutors were living. He not only had
the quality of not really belonging to them himself
and of reaching back before they and forward
to when they would have gonc> but he Imposed the
same quality of relative permanence upon the
thoughts of his hearers* He had the quality less of
being ephemeral than of sitting with his and
watching everything else go by*
The human mind discovered itself relatively im-
mortal amidst evanescent things, This beautiful
house became like a tent that would presently be
THE GREAT AGE THAT COMES
folded up and taken away and the celebrated gar-
dens like a great bouquet of flowers that had been
brought from the ends of the earth, just to be looked
at and to delight for a little while and then to die and
be dispersed. The house was built about a Saracenic
watchtower for its core; wherever its foundations
had extended buried fragments of polished marble
and busts and broken provincial statuary had recalled
its Roman predecessor; but at the touch of Sempack
these marble gods and emperors became no more than
the litter of the last tenant^ his torn photographs and
out-of-date receipts. The Via Aurelia ran deeply
through the grounds between high walls, and some
one had set up, at a bridge where the gardens crossed
this historical gully, a lettered-stone to recall that on
this documented date or that, this emperor and that
pope, Nicolo Machiavelli and Napoleon the First,
had ridden past. These ghosts seemed scarcely re-
moter than the records of recent passages in the big
leather-bound Visitors* Book in the Hall, Mr. Glad-
stone and King Edward the Seventh, the Austrian
Empress and Mr, Keir Hardie.
Occasionally tombstones that had stood beside the
high road were unearthed by changes in the garden,
One inscribed quite simply "Amoena Lucina/' just
that and nothing more, was like a tender sigh that
had scarcely passed away. Mrs. Rylaads had set it
up again in a little walled close of turf and purple
flowers. People talked there of Lucina as though
she might still hear.
Over everything hung a promise of further trans-
formations, for the Italians had a grandiose scheme
for reviving the half obliterated tracks of the Via
Aurelia as a modern motoring road to continue the
GranHe Cornlche. Everything passed here and
everything went byj fashions of life and house and
people and ideas j it seemed that they passed very
swiftly indeed, when one measured time by a scale
that would take in those half disinterred skeletons of
Cro-Magnon men and Grimaldi men who lay, under
careful glass casings now, in the great cave of the
Rochers Rouges just visible from the dining-room
windows. That great cave was still black with the
ashes of prehistoric fires, as plain almost as the traces
of yesterday's picnic* Even the grisly sub-man with
his rude flint-chipped stakes, was here a thing of
overnight His implements were scattered and left
in the deeper layers of the silted cave, like the toys
of a child that has recently been sent to bed. With a
wave of his ample hand Mr. Scmpacfc could allude
to the whole span of the human story.
"Utopias, you say, deny the thing that is/ 1 said
Mr* SempacL "Why, yesterday and to-morrow
deny the thing that is!"
He made Mrs* Rylands feel like some one who
wakes up completely in the compartment of an ex-
press train, which between sleeping and waking she
had imagined to be a house.
Colonel Bullace had to hear that his dear British
Empire had hardly lasted a lifetime. "Its substan-
tial expansion came with the steamships/* said Mr*
Sempackj c< it is held together by the steamship.
How much longer will the steamship endure? 11
Before the steamship it was no more than the
shrunken vestiges of the Empire of George 111,
Most of America was lost* Our rule in India was a
trader^ dominion not a third of its present
Canada, the Cape were settlements,
THE GREAT AGE THAT COMES
Now Colonel Bullace was o that variety of Eng-
lishman which believes as an article of faith that the
Union Jack has "braved a thousand years the battle
and the breeze" since 1 800. If any one had told him
that the stars and stripes was the older of the two
flags he would have become homicidal. A steamship
Empire! What of Nelson and our wooden walls?
What of John Company? What of Raleigh? What
of Agincourt? He had a momentary impulse to rise
up and kill Mr. Sempack, but he was calling his hand,
a rather difficult hand, just then and one must put
first things first.
And while Mr. Sempack made respect for any es-
tablished powerful thing seem the delusion of chil-
dren still too immature to realise the reality of
change, at the same time he brought the idea of the
strangest and boldest innovations in the ways of hu-
man life within the range of immediately practicable
things. In the past our kind had been hustled along
by change: now it was being given the power to
make its own changes. He did not preach the com-
ing of the Great Age 5 he assumed it. He put it upon
the sceptic to show why it should not arrive. He
treated the advancement and extension of science as.
inevitable. As yet so few people do that. Science
might be delayed in its progress or accelerated, but
how could its process stop? And how could the fluc-
tuating extravagances of human folly resist for ever
the steady drive towards the realisations of that ever
growing and ever strengthening body of elucidation?
There was none of the prophetic visionary about the
ungainly Mr, Sempack as he sat deep and low on the
sofa. He made the others seem visionaries. Simply
he asked them all to be reasonable,
For a time the talk had dealt with various main
aspects of this Millennium which Mr* Sempack spoke
of so serenely^ as a probable and perhaps inevitable
achievement for our distressed and confused species.
He displayed a large and at times an almost exasper-
ating patience. It was only yesterday, so to speak,
that the idea of mankind controlling its own destiny
had entered human thought* Were there Utopias
before the days of Plato? Mr. Sempack did not
know of any. And the idea of wilful and creative
change was still a strange and inassirailable idea to
most people. There were plenty of people who were
no more capable of such an idea than a rabbit. His
large grey eye had rested for a moment on Colonel
Bullace and drifted pensively to the Mathisons.
"The problem is to deal with them/' Mrs, Ry-
lands had reflected, following the indication of the
large grey ^eye.
"They will all die/* said Lord Tumar.
"And plenty more get born/ 1 said Philip t follow-
ing his own thoughts to the exclusion of those present
"You don't consult the cat when you alter the
house," said Mr* Sempack*
a But is such concealment exactly what one might
call democracy ? w asked Mr. Plantugcnct-Buchan in
"You don't even turn the cat out of the room when
you discuss your alterations," satd Mr. Scmpack) and
It was only nowadays that the plan before man-
kind was becoming sufficiently clear and complete for
us to dream of any organised and deliberate effort to
realise it. The early Utopias never pretended, to be
THE GREAT AGE THAT COMES
more than suggestions. Too often seasoned by the
deprecatory laugh- But there had been immense lib-
erations of the human imagination in the last two
centuries. Our projects grew more and more cou-
rageous and comprehensive. Every intelligent man
without some sort of kink was bound to believe a po-
litical world unity not only possible but desirable.
Every one who knew anything about such matters was
moving towards the realisation that the world needed
one sort of money and not many currencies, and
would be infinitely richer and better if it was con-
trolled as one economic system. These were new
ideas, just as once the idea of circumnavigating the
world had been a new idea, but they spread, they
"But to materialise them? 37 said the young man
a That will come. The laboratory you work in is
only the first of many. The League of Nations is
the mere first sketch of a preliminary experiment."
Lord Tamar betrayed a partisan solicitude for his
League of Nations. He thought it was more than
Parliaments of Nations, said Mr. Sempack 7 offered
no solution of the riddle of war. Every disagree-
ment reopened the possibility of war. Every endur-
ing peace in the world had been and would have to
be a peace under one government. When ^people
spoke of the Pax Romana and the Pax Britannica they
meant one sovereignty. Every sovereignty implied
an internal peace j every permanent peace a practical
sovereignty. For the Pax Mundi there could be,
only one sovereignty. It was a little hard for peo-
ple who had grown up under old traditions of nation
and empire to realise that and to face its conse-
quences j but there was always a new generation
coming along, ready to take new ideas seriously.
People were learning history in a new spirit and
their political imaginations were being born again.
The way might be long and difficult to that last Pax,
but not so long and difficult as many people with their
noses ia their newspapers, supposed.
"If one could believe that/ 3 sighed Lady Tamar.
Mr. Sempack left his politics and economics} his
sure hope of the One World State and the One
World Business floating benevolently in their mental
skies; and talked of the reflection upon the individual
life of a scientific order of human affairs. It was re-
markable, he thought, how little people heeded the
things that the medical and physiological and psycho-
logical sciences were saying to them. But these
things came to them only through a haze of distor-
tion, caricatured until they lost all practical signifi-
cancej disguised as the foolish fancies of a race of
oddly gifted eccentrics* There was a great gulf fixed
between the scientific man and the ordinary mun> the
press* So that the generality had no suspicion of the
releases from pain and fatigue, the accessions of
strength^ the control over this and that embarrassing
function or entangling weakness, that science could
afford even now.
Still less could it imagine the mines of power and
freedom that these first hand-specimens foretold.
Contemporary psychology^ all unsuspected by the
multitude, was preparing the ground for an educa-
tion that would disentangle men from a great burthen
of traditional and innate self -deception; It was point-
ing the road to an ampler and finer social and politi-
THE GREAT AGE THAT COMES
cal life. The moral atmosphere of the world, just
as much 'as the population and hunger of the world,
was a controllable thing when men saw fit to con-
trol it. For a moment or so as Mr. Sempack talked,
it seemed to Mrs. Rylands that the room was per-
vaded by presences, by tall, grave, friendly beings,
by anticipatory ghosts of man to come, happy, wise
and powerful. It was as if they were visiting the
past at Casa Terragena as she had sometimes visited
the sleeping bones in the caves at Rochers Rouges.
Why had they come into the room? Was it because
these friendly and interested visitants were the chil-
dren of such thoughts as this great talk was bringing
"There is no inexorable necessity for any sustained
human unhappiness," said Mr. Sempack j "none at
all. There is no absolute reason whatever why every
child born should not be born happily into a life of
activity and interest and happiness. If there is, I
have never heard of it. Tell me what it is,"
"Bombaccio," said Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan,
glancing over his shoulder to make sure that the
servants were out of the room, "is a Catholic. He
believes there was a Fall."
"Do w?" asked Mr. Sempack.
Puppy Clarges made a furtive grimace over her
cigarette at Geoffrey, but the doctrine of the Fall
went by default.
"But then," asked Mrs, Bullace, "why isn't every
one happy now?"
"Secondary reasons," Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan
asserted* "There may be no invincible barrier to an
earthly Paradise, but still we have to find the way."
"It takes a long time," said Philip.
"Everything that is longer than a lifetime is a long
time/' said Mr. SempacL "But for all practical pur-
poses, you must remember, so soon as we pass that
limit, nothing is very much longer than anything
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan, after an instant's
thought, agreed with that as warmly as if he had met
a long lost friend, but at the first impact it reminded
Mrs. Rylands rather unpleasantly of attempts to
a lt does not matter if it uses up six generations
or six hundred/* Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan endorsed,
"Except to the generations," said Philip.
"But who CHYW/J this world of prigs?" came the
voice of Geoffrey in revolt*
"1 do for one," said Mr. Scmpack.
C lt would bore me to death? 1
"Lots of us are bored almost to violence by things
as they arc. More will be* Progress has always been
a battle of the bared against the contented and the
hopeless. If you like this world with its diseases and
frustrations, its toil and blind cravings and unsatisfied
wants, its endless quarrcllings and its pointless tyran-
nies and cruelties, the of its present occu-
pations in such grotesque contrast with the hard and
frightful violence to which it Is so plainly heading, if
you like this world, 1 say, defend it* But 1 to
push it into the past as completely as 1 can and as fast
as 1 can before it turns to horror. So I shall be
you. 1 am for progress. 1 believe^ in ^ progress*
Work for progress 5s the renlest thing in life to me.
If some messenger came to me and said with absolute
conviction to me, 'This Is ail. It can never Ixs any
THE IDEA OF MEANWHILE
better/ 1 would not go on living in it for another four
and twenty hours. 3 '
Geoffrey seemed to have no retort ready. His face
had assumed the mulish expression of a schoolboy
being preached at. This fellow, confound him! had
language. And splashed it about at dinner time!
Long sentences! Bookish words! Philip might as
well have let in a field preacher. Field Preacher,
that ? s what he was. That should be his name.
Geoffrey nodded his head as who should say, "We ? ve
heard all that? and helped himself in a businesslike
way to butter. A fellow must have butter whatever
trash he has to hear. You wouldn't have him wait
until all the jawing was finished before he took
a Not much to quarrel with to my mind/ 3 said Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan, "in a world that can give us
such a sunset as we had to-night This spacious
room. And all these lovely flowers."
a But there will still be sunsets and flowers, in any
sort of human world," said Mr. Sempack.
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan was a little belated with
his reply, but it opened profound philosophical issues
and he liked it and was content, a Against a back-
ground," he said, "perhaps not dark enough to do
AFTER the move upstairs, when all those mem-
bers of the party who lived and were satisfied
with the present, the Bullaces and the Mathi-
sons and Geoffrey and Lady Grieswold and Puppy
and Mr, Haulbowline, had gone apart to their happi-
ness in bridge, the talk about Mr. Sempack and his
great world of peace, justice and splendid work to
comCj had turned chiefly on the quality of the ob-
stacles and entanglements that still kept men back
from that promised largeness of living. The per-
sistence of his creative aim impressed Mrs. Rylands
as heroic, but it was mingled with a patience that
seemed to her almost inhuman,
"There is a time element in all these things/' said
Mr. Sempack. "In one newspaper downstairs there
was a report of the conference of some political or-
ganisation, I think the Independent Labour Party,
and they had adopted as their *cry,> so to speak, and
with great enthusiasm, Socialism in Our Time. 1 The
newspaper made a displayed head-line of it What
did they mean by that? Humbug? Something to
catch the very young? Or a real proposal to change
this competitive world into a communistic system,
change its spirit, its intricate, undefined and often un-
traceable methods in twenty or thirty years? Face
round against the trend of biology in that short time*
Take nature and tradition by the throat and win at the
first onset A small group of ill-informed people.
Fantastic! To believe in the possibility of change at
that pace is as absurd as not to believe in change at
A distant "Hear Hear!** came from the bridge
"TaMfy partner I** the voice of Lady Grieswold re-
Colonel Bullace made no further sign*
"Nevertheless a!! these changes are to be
made and they may be made much sooner I am sure
they will be made much sooner than most of us
THE IDEA OF MEANWHILE
suppose. Change in human affairs goes with an ac-
celeration. . . , w
He went on with this reasonableness of his that
balanced so perplexingly between cold cruelty and
heroic determination. The world was not ready yet
for the achievement of its broader and greater
changes. Knowledge had grown greatly, but it had
to grow enormously and be enormously diffused be-
fore things could be handled on such a scale as would
give a real world peace, a world system of economics,
a universal disciplined and educated life. The recent
progress of psychology had been very great, but it
was still only beginning. Until it had gone further
we could do no more than speculate and sketch the
developments of the political life of mankind and of
education and religious teaching that would usher in
the new phase. There was a minimum of time
needed for every advance in thought and knowledge.
We might help and hurry on the process up to a
certain limit, but there was that limit. Until that
knowledge had been sought and beaten out, we were
workers without tools, soldiers without weapons.
"Easy for us to sit here and be patient, but what
of the miner, cramped and wet, in the dark and the
foul air, faced with a lock-out in May," said Philip.
"I can't help him," said Mr. Sempack serenely.
^Immediately," said Philip.
"Heaven knows if 1 can ever help him. Why
should I pretend? If he strikes I may send a little
money, but that is hardly help. Why pretend? I
am no use to him, Just as I couldn't help if pres-
ently there came a wireless call have you a wire-
"In the kitchen," said Mrs. Rylands. "They like
"To say that some shiploads of people were burn-
ing and sinking in the South Atlantic No ^ help is
possible at this distance. Just as there is nothing that
any of us can do for the hundreds of thousands of
people who are at this present moment dying of can-
cer. It is no good thinking about such things."
The landscape of Mr. SempackV face hardly al-
tered There may have been the ghost of a sigh in
his voice. "It is no good getting excited by such
things. It may even do harm.
"The disease of cancer will be banished from life
by calm, unhurrying, persistent men and women,
working, with every shiver of feeling controlled and
suppressed, in hospitals and laboratories. And the
motive that will conquer cancer will not be pity nor
horror; it: will be curiosity to know how^uid why."
"And i he desire for service," said Lord Tainan
"As the justification, of that curiosity," said Mr.
Sempack, "but not as the motive, JL'ity never made a
good doctor, love never made a good poef. Desire
for service never made a discovery.**
"But that miner/* said Philip and after his fashion
left his sentence incomplete*
"The miner is cramped between the strata in the
world of ideas just as much as in the mine. We can-
not go and lift the strata off him^ suddenly, in the
twinkling of an eye. lie has his fa Alight with
the mine-owner, who h as blind- In his fashion*
Which is physically at least, 1 admit a com*
Philip's trembled for a moment on his
THE IDEA OF MEANWHILE
"The miners are finding life intolerable, the mine-
owners are greedy not only for what they have but
morej the younger Labour people want to confuse
the issue by a general strike and a push for what they
call the Social Revolution.' 5
"What exactly do they mean by that?" asked Lord
"Nothing exactly. The Communists have per-
suaded themselves that social discontent is a creative
driving force in itself. It isn ? t. Indignation never
made a good revolution, and I never beard of a din-
ner yet, well cooked by a starving cook* All that
these troubles can do is to ease or increase the squeeze
on the miners and diminish or increase the totally
unnecessary tribute to the coal-owners at the price
of an uncertain amount of general disorganisation
and waste. My own sympathies are with the miners
and I tax my coal bill twenty-five per cent, and send
it to them. But I cherish no delusions about that
struggle. There is no solution in all that strife and
passion. It is just a dog-fight. The minds of people
have to be adjusted to new ideas before there is an
end to this sweating of men in the darkness. People
have to realise that winning coal is a public need and
service.* like the high road and the post office. A
service that has to be paid for and taken care of.
Everybody profits by cheap accessible coaL A coal-
owner's royalties arc as antiquated as a toll gate.
Some day it will be clear to every one, as it is clear
to any properly informed person now, that if the
state paid all the costs of exploiting coal in the coun-
try and handed the stuff out at prices like say ten
shillings a ton, the stimulation of every sort of pro-
duction would be so great, the increase, that is, on
taxable wealth would be so great, as to yield a profit^
a quite big profit, to the whole community. The
miners would become a public force like the coast-
guards or the firemen . . ?*
"You think that is possible?" asked Philip.
"I know. It's plain. But lt ? s not plain to every
one. Facts and possibilities have to be realised. Im-
aginations have to be lit and kept lit. Certain
obstructive wickednesses in all of us "
Mr, Sempack stopped. He never finished a sen-
"But coal winning isn't confined to its country of
origin," said Philip. "There is the export trade."
"Which twists the question round completely/ 1
said Lord Tamar.
"When you subsidise coal getting in England you
subsidise industrial competition abroad/* said Philip*
"Exactly. While we still carry on the economic
life of the world in these compartments and pigeon-
holes we call sovereign states," said Mr. Sempack,
"we cannot handle any of these other issues. Noth-
ing for it but makeshift and piecemeal? 1
"Till the Millennium," said Philip.
"Tilt the light grows brighter/* said Sempack,
and added meditatively: "It docs grow brighter.
Perhaps not front day to day, but from year to year*' 11
They went on to talk about the moral training that
was needed if modern communities were to readjust
their economic life to the greater and more unified
methods that were everywhere offering themselves,
and when they talked of that Mr, Sempacfc made the
schools and colleges of to-day seem mare provisional
and evanescent even than our railways and factories.
Beyond their translucent and fading farms, he
THE IDEA OF MEANWHILE
evoked a vision of a wide, free and active life for all
mankind. In the foreground, confusions, conflicts,
wastes, follies, possible wars and destructions; on
the slopes beyond the promise and a little gathering
band of the illuminated, who questioned, who an-
alysed, who would presently plan and set new
methods and teaching going. Nothing in the whole
world was so important as the mental operations,
the realisations and disseminations of these illumi-
nated people, these creative originatory people who
could not be hurried, but who might so easily be de-
layed, without whom, except for accident, nothing
could be achieved. Where was the plain and solvent
discussion needed to liberate minds from a thousand
current obsessions and limitations? Where were the
schools of the new time? They had not come yet.
Where were the mighty armies of investigators?
Nothing as yet but guerrilla bands that wandered in
the wilderness and happened upon this or that.
The self-discovery, the mutual discovery, of those
who constituted this illuminated minority, became the
main theme. They dawned. As yet they did but
dawn upon themselves. They fought against nature
within themselves and without. They fought against
darkness without and within. Large phrases stuck
out in Mrs* Rylands' memories of this talk, like big
crystals in a rock.
"The immense inattentions of mankind . . ."
"Subconscious evasions and avoidances . . ."
"Our alacrity for distractions . . *"
"The disposition of the human mind to apprehend,
to assent and then to disregard, to understand and yet
flag and fail, before the bare thought of a translation
into action . . . }l
"The terror of isolation because of our insecure
gregariousness. We try to catch every epidemic of
error for fear of singularity ..."
"Minds as wild as rabbits and as ready to go under-
ground . * 5?
"When you want then to hunt in a pack," Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan had assisted at this point. . . -
"The disposition of everything human to inflame
and make a cancer about a minor issue, that will
presently kill all the wider interests concerned . * ."
The great talk rambled on and all its later phases
were haunted by the idea that embodies itself ^ia that
word "Meanwhile/ 3 In the measure in which one
saw life plainly the world ceased to be a home and
became the mere site of a home* On which we
camped* Unable as yet to live fully and completely.
Since nothing was in order, nothing was completely
right. We lived provisionally* There was no just
measure of economic worth j we had to live unjustly.
Even if we did not rob, "findings keepings' 7 was our
motto. Did we consider ourselves overpaid, to
whom could we repay? Were we to relinquish all it
would vanish like a drop in the thirsty ocean of the
underpaid and unproductive* We were justified in
taking life as we found itj in return i we had ease
and freedom we ought to do all that we could to
increase knowledge and bring the great days of a
common world-order nearer, a universal justice, the
real civilisation, the consummating life, the days that
would justify the Martyrdom of Man. In many
matters we still did not know right from wrong* We
did not so much live as discuss and err. The whole
region of sexual relations for example was still a
dark forest, unmapped j we blundered through it by
THE IDEA OF MEANWHILE
instinct- We followed such tracks as we found and
we could not tell if they had been made by men or
brutes. We could not tell if they led to the open or
roundabout to a lair. We followed them, or we dis-
trusted them and struggled out of them through the
"But a glimpse now and then of a star! 55 said Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan his best thing, he reflected.,
"Or a firefly/ 5 said Lady Catherine.
The psychologist, the physiologist, would clear
that jungle in time. In time.
All sorts of beautiful and splendid things might
happen in this world. (The large gaze of Mr, Sem-
pack rested for a moment on Lady Catherine.) But
they happened accidentally} you could not make a
complete life of them. You could not take a life or
a group of lives and give it a perfect existence, se-
cluded and apart ? in a blundering world. Man was
a social creature and you could not be gods in Italy
while there remained a single suffering cripple in
China or Peru} you could not be a?- gentleman en-
tirely, while a single underpaid miner cursed the coal
he won for you. The nearest one could get to perfec-
tion in life now was to work for the greatness to
come. And not trouble too much about one*$ inci-
dental blunders, one's incidental falls from grace.
"Work," he said and reflected. "We have to work
for the work and take happiness for the wild flower
it is. Some day men will cultivate their happinesses
in gardens, a great variety of beautiful happinesses,
happinesses grown under glass, happinesses all the
year round* Such things are not for us* They will
come* Meanwhile "
"Meanwhile," echoed Lord Tamar.
Came that pause just before Mrs. Rylands as-
And then it was Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan had
made his rather sad little summing-up 5 his sense of
the gist of it all, given with his very formal and dis-
ciplined laugh, bright without being vulgar. "I per-
ceive I have been meanwhiling all my life. Mean-
whiling . . . Have I been living?" (Shrug of
the shoulders and gesture of the hands.), "No, I
have been meanwhiling away my time." ^
And for once his own bright observation pierced
back and searched and pricked himself. But it wasn't
real enough to end upon. Unsatisfactory.
"Eheu! fugaces!" he sighed, an indisputably ele-
gant afterthought. Though something Greek would
have been better. Or something a little less famil-
iar. But then people were so apt to miss the point
if it was Greek or unhackneyed* And besides he had
not on the spur of the moment been able to think of
anything Greek and unhackneyed* Compromise al-
ways. Compromise* Meanwhile.
He became preoccupied and noted nothing of Mrs.
Rylands* remarkable good-night speech to Mr.
For quite a long time he sat on his bed in his
charming room m the tower before he began to tin-
dress, brooding in a state of quite unusual dissatisfac-
tion upon himself, regardless of the beautiful views
south, north, east and west of him, the coast and the
mountains and the silhouetted trees* He liked to
think of his existence as a very perfect and polished
and finished thing indeed and he had been wounded
by his own witticism about "meanwhiling away his
life." And this was entangled with this other un~
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
pleasant and novel idea, that if one's refinement
was effective or even perceptible it couldn't really be
refinement. Some of these Europeans achieved a
sort of accidentalness in their refinement. They left
you in doubt about it. Should one go so far as to
leave people in doubt about it? Was there such a
thing as being aggressively refined?
Presently Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan stood up and
regarded himself in his mirror, varying the point of
view until at last he was ogling himself gravely over
his shoulder. He stretched out his hands, his very
remarkable white hands. Then he pirouetted right
round until he came into his thoughtful attitude with
his arms folded, as if consulting his diamond ring.
He was comparing himself with Mr. Sempack.
He was struggling with the perplexing possibilities
that there might be a profounder subtlety than he
had hitherto suspected in the barest statement of fact
and opinion, and a sort of style in a physical appear-
ance that looked as though it had been shot out on a
dump from a cart.
His discontent deepened. "Little humbug!" he
said to the elegance in the mirror. Its expression re-
He touched brutality. "Little ass!" he said.
He turned from the mirror, sharply, and began
to undress, methodically, after his manner.
NEXT morning Mrs, Rylands could better
grasp the great talk and its implications.
She lay in bed and contemplated it as she
sipped her morning tea and it looked just as it had
looked before she gave way to her fatigue, a very
fine talk indeed and immensely interesting to
Philip and every one. She forgot her last phase
and the awful things she had thought about Mr.
Sempack and remembered only her happy plagiarism
from Mr. Plantagenet-Bucha% a "cathedral of
ideas." It was indeed like a great cathedral in her
memory. It had sent her to bed exhausted it is
true} but is anything worth having unless it exhausts
you? It had stirred up Philip. That diabolical lapse
had faded from her mind like a dream that comes
between sleeping and waking.
It was impossible she found to recall how the talk
had developed, but now that hardly mattered. The
real value of a talk is not how it goes but what it
leaves in your memory^ which is one reason perhaps
why dialogues in books are always so boring to read.
Even Plato was boring. Jowett's Plato had been
one of the acutest disappointments in her life. She
remembered how she had got the "Symposium"
volume out of her father's library and struggled with
it in the apple tree* She had expected something
like a bag of unimagined jewels. In any talk much
of what was said was like the wire stage of a clay
model and better forgotten as soon as it was covered
over. But what was left from last night was a
fabric plain and large in its incompleted outline, in
which she felt her mind could wander about very
agreeably and very profitably whenever she was so
disposed* And in which Philip's mind might be
wandering even now,
This morning however she had little energy for
such exploration. She approved of the great talk and
blessed it and felt that it had added very much to her
life* But she surveyed it only from the outside*
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
The chief thing in her consciousness was that she was
very comfortable and that she did not intend to get
up. She would lie and think. But so far it seemed
likely to be pure thought she would produce, with-
out any contamination with particular things. She
was very comfortable, propped up by pillows in her
She was, also, had she been able to see herself,
very pretty. She was wearing a silk bed- jacket that
just repeated a little more intensely the sapphire
colour beneath her lace bedspread. It was trimmed
with white fur. Her ruffled hair made her look like
a very jolly, but rather fragile boy. A great canopy
supported by bed-posts of carved wood did its utmost
to enhance the importance of the mistress of Casa
Terragena. The dressing table with its furnishings
of silver and shining enamel and cut and coloured
glass, enforced the idea that whatever size the lady
chose to be, it was the duty of her bedroom to treat
her as an outsize in gracious ladies. The curtains
of the window to the south-east still shut out the
sunlight, but the western window was wide open and
showed a stone-pine in the nearer distance, a rocky
promontory, and then far away the sunlit French
coast and Mentone and Cap Martin,
The day was fine but not convincingly fine. Over
the sea was a long line of woolly yet possibly wicked
little clouds putting their heads together. But
so often in this easy climate such conspiracies came
She wasn't going down to breakfast} she did not
intend indeed to go down until lunch. She was tak-
ing the fullest advantage of her state to be thor-
oughly lazy and self-indulgent and lie and play with
her mind. Or doze as the mood might take her,
Philip and Catherine and Geoffrey and dear Miss
Fenimore and everybody, let alone Bombaccio the
majordomo and his morning minion 3 would see that
everybody was given coffee and tea and hot rolls and
eggs and bacon and fruit and Dundee marmalade.,
according to their needs. They would all sec to each
other and Bombaccio would see to all of them. Just
think. She would not force her thinking or think
anything out ? but she would let her thoughts run.
This onset of maternity about which feminists and
serious spinsters made such a f uss 3 was proving to be
not at all the dreadful experience she had prepared
herself to face. Soft folds of indolent well-being
seemed to be wrapping about her, fold upon fold*
After all bearing heirs to the Rylands millions was
a very easy and pleasant sort of work to do in the
world. Almost too easy and pleasant when one con-
sidered the pay. Smooth. Gentle. Living to the
tune of a quiet murmur. She remembered something
her Sussex aunt, Aunt Janet Nicholas, Aunt Janet
the prolific, had once said. a lt makes you feel less
and less like being Brighton and more and more like
being the Downs," The Downs, the drowsy old
Downs in summer sunshine. The tiny harebells in
the turf. The velvet sound o bees* A peaccf ulncss
of body and souL And yet one could think as clearly
and pleasantly as ever. Or at least one seemed to
She had an idea, a by no means imperative Idea,
that presently when she had done with realising how
comfortable she was^ her thoughts might after all
take a stroll about the aisles and cloisters of the over-
night discussion, but instead she found herself think-
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
ing alternatively of two more established preposses-
sions. One was Philip and his interest in the talk
and the other, which somehow ought to be quite de-
tached from him and yet which seemed this morn-
ing to be following the thought of him like a shadow,
Philip's interest in this discussion had surprised
her, and yet it was only the culminating fact to some-
thing that had been very present to her mind for
some little time. She was convinced and she had
always been convinced that Philip's mind was a
very vigorous and able one, a mind of essential
nobility and limitless possibilities, but so soon as she
had got over the emotion and amazement of the
wonderful marriage that had lifted her out of the
parental Hampshire rectory to be the mistress of
three lovely homes, and begun really to look at
Philip and consider him not as a love god but as a
human being, she had perceived a certain restricted-
ness in his intellectual equipment. Apparently he
had read scarcely anything of the slightest impor-
tance in the world $ he had gone through the educa-
tional furnaces of Eton and had a year at Oxford
before the war, unscathed by sound learning of any
sort. The smell of intellectual fire had not passed
upon him. Not a hair of his head had been singed
by It* He was amazingly inexpressive and inarticu-
late. If he knew the English language, for some
reason he cut most of it dead. And he opened a
book about as often as he took medicine, which wag
Yet he seemed to know a lot of things and every
now and then she found she had to admit him not
only cleverer but more knowledgeable than she was*
If he had read little, he had picked up a lot. He had
been a good soldier under Allenby 3 they said ? espe-
cially in the East In spite o his youth men had
been glad to follow him. And in spite of his
silences all sorts of intelligent people respected him.
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan and Mr. Scmpack betrayed
no contempt nor pity for such rare remarks as he
made. They were infrequent but sound. He con-
ducted, or at any rate helped to conduct, business
operations that were still extremely vague to her ?
operations that she had gathered had to do mainly
with steel. When he went into Parliament, and he
was nursing Sealholme to that end, he would, she
was sure, be quite a good member of Parliament,
And yet she knew it and still her mind straggled
against the admission there was something that was
lacking. A vigour, an expansion. His mind refused
to be militant, was at best reserved and a commentary,
Dear and adorable Philip! Was it treason to think
as much? Was it treason to want him perfect?
Her own family was an old Whig family with
traditions of intellectual aggressiveness. She had
cousins who were university professors, and her
home, so close and convenient for Oxford, had
been actively bookish and alive to poetry and paint-
ing* She had listened to good talk before she was
fifteen. She had not always understood but she
had listened soundly. She had grown up into the
idea that there was this something eminently desir-
able that you got from the literature of the world,
that was conveyed insidiously by great music* and
by all sorts of cared-f or and venerated lovely things.
It went with a frequent fine use of the mind* a con-
scious use, and it took all science by the way* It was
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
an Inward and spiritual grace, this something, that
was needed to make the large, handsome and mag-
nificently prosperous things of life worth while. She
had not so much thought out these ideas to their
definiteness, as apprehended their existence estab-
lished in her mind. And when all the storm of
meeting this glorious happy Philip and attracting
him and being loved by him and marrying him and
becoming the most fortunate of young women sub-
sided, there were these values, still entrenched, re-
flecting upon all that she had achieved.
There in the middle of her world ruled this sun-
god, this dear friend and lover, active, quietly
amused, bringing her with such an adorable pride
and such adorable humility to the homes of his
fathers, giving, exhibiting; and yet as one settled
into this lif e, as day followed day, and one began to
realise what the routines and usages, the interests
and entertainments amounted to, there arose this
whisper of discontent, this rebellious idea that still
something was lacking.
The life was so large and free and splendid in
comparison with anything that she might reasonably
have hoped for, that it brought a whiff of ingratitude
with it even to think that it was also rather superficial.
It wasn't, she told herself, that this new life that
made her a great lady wasn't good enough for her.
It was far too good. Her estimate of herself was
balanced and unexacting. She had never been able
to make up her mind whether she was rather more
than usually clever or rather more than usually
stupid} she was inclined to think both. It wasn't a
question of how this new life became her, but how it
became Philip. The point was that it was somehow
not good enough for Philip. And, i it wasn't a
paradox, as if Philip wasn't as yet quite good enough
And still more evasive and subtle was her recent
apprehension of the fact that Philip himself knew
that somehow he wasn't quite good enough for him-
self. This new perception had reached back, as it
were, and supplied an explanation of why Philip had
come out of a world of alert and brilliant women,
to her of all people. Because about her there had
been a sort of schoolgirl prestige of knowledge and
cleverness, and perhaps for him that had seemed to
promise just whatever it was that would supply that
haunting yet impalpable insufficiency. Instead of
which, she reflected, here in this almost regal apart-
ment, she had given him a dewy passion of love, wor-
ship, physical, but physical as tears and moonlight,
and now this promise of a child.
Had he forgotten, in his new phase of grateful
protectiveness, what need it was had first brought
Quite recently, and after being altogether blind
to it, she had discovered these gropings out towards
something more than the current interests of his
happy and healthy days* He was questioning things.
But he was questioning them as though he had for-
gotten she existed. He was, for example, quite
markedly exercised by this question of a possible coal
strike in England* With amazement she had be-
come aware how keenly he was interested in it For
all she knew the Rylands* millions were deeply in-
volved in coal, but it wasn't, she was assured, on any
personal account that he was interested*
Beyond the question of the miners, there was
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
something more. He was concerned about England.
She had thought at first that, like nearly all his class,
he took the Empire and the social system, and so
forth, for granted, and the secret undertow of her
mind, her memories of talk at the parental table,
had made it seem a little wanting in him to treat
such questionable things as though they were funda-
mental and inalterable. But now she realised he was
beginning to penetrate these assumptions. There
had been an illuminating little encounter, about a
week ago, with Colonel Bullace on the night of
Colonel Bullace's arrival.
Philip never discussed j he was too untrained to
discuss. But he would suddenly ask quite far-reach-
ing questions and then take your answer off to gnaw it
over at leisure. Or he would drop remarks, like
ultimatums, days or weeks after you had answered his
questions. And a couple of these rare questions of
his were fired that night at Colonel Bullace.
"What's all this about British Fascists?/' asked
Philip, out of the void.
"Eh!" said Colonel Bullace and accumulated force.
"Very necessary organisation."
Philip had remained patiently interrogative.
"Pat's pretty deep in it," dear Mrs. Bullace had
explained in her simple disarming way.
The picture of the scene came back to Mrs. Ry-
lands. It was a foursome that evening j the Bullaces
had been the first of this present party to arrive. She
recalled Colonel Bullace's face. He was like a wiry-
haired terrier. No, he was more like a Belgian
griffon with that big eyeglass, he was more like a
one-eyed Belgian griffon. What a queer thing it
must be to be a nice little, rather silly little woman
like Mrs. Bullace and be married to a man like that,
a sort of canine man. She supposed for example
one would have to kiss that muzzle. Embrace the
man! Mrs. Rylands stirred uneasily under her lace
bedspread at the thought. He had talked about the
dangers of Communism in England, o the increasing
insubordination of labour^ of the gold of Moscow^
and the need there was to "check these Bolsheviks."
All in sentences that were like barks. She did not
remember very clearly what he saldj it sounded like
nonsense out of the Daily Mail. It probably was.
What she remembered was Philip's grave face and
how, abruptly, it came to her again as though she had
never seen or felt it before, how handsome he was,
how fine he was and how almost intolerably she loved
"You mean to say, you would like to provoke a
general strike now? And smash the Trade Unions ?"
"Put J cm in their place."
"But if you resort to c iirmaess ? now if Joynson-
Hicks and his fellow Fascists in the Cabinet, and your
Daily Mail and Morning Post party, do succeed in
bringing off a fight and humiliating ami beating the
workers and splitting England into two camps"
Philip found his sentence too involved and
dropped it "How many men will you leave beaten?"
he asked, "How many Trade Unionists are there?"
Colonel Bullace didn^t seem to know.
"Some millions of them ? Englishmen ? "
"Dupes of Moscow!" said Colonel Bullace*
"Dupes of Moscow."
"A day will come/ 1 added Colonel Bullace de-
fiantly, "when they will be grateful to us for the
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
Philip had considered that for a moment and
then he had sighed deeply and said, "Oh!
Let's go to bed/ 3 and it seemed to her that never
before had she heard those four words used so
definitely for calling a man a fool.
And afterwards he had come into her room, still
darkly thoughtful. He had kissed her good-night
almost absent-mindedly and then stood quite still
for a minute perhaps at the open window looking
out at the starlight. "I don't understand all this
stuff/' he said at last, to himself almost as much as
to her. "I don^t understand what is going on and
has been going on for some time. This British Fas-
cist stuff and so on. ... I wonder if any one does?
These work-people and their hours and lives, and
what they will stand and what they won't It's all
beyond anything I know about?*
He stood silent for a time.
<c Wages went down. Now unemployment is
growing and growing. 7 '
"Nobody seems to know." It was like a sigh.
^Suppose they smash things up."
Then ia his catlike way he was gone, without a
sound except the soft click of the door.
She looked now at the window against which he
had stood and wondered how she might help him.
He was the most difficult and comprehensive problem
she had ever faced. This social struggle that it
seemed hung over England had risen disregarded
while she had been giving herself wholly to love.
She did not know any of the details of the coal
subsidies and coal compromises, that had produced
this present situation about which everybody was
growing anxious. It had all come on suddenly, so
far as her knowledge went, in a year or so. And now
here she was 3 useless to her man. It was no good
pestering him with ill-informed questions. She
would have to read, she would have to find out before
she approached him.
It was queerly characteristic of Philip that he had
pounced upon Mr, Sempack at the Fortescties* at
Roquebrune and brought him over ? without a word
of explanation. She guessed Mn Sempack had talked
about coal and labour at Roquebrune. Philip had
something instinctive and inexplicable in his actions 5
he seemed to do things without any formulated
reason; he had felt the need of talk as a dog will
sometimes feel the need of grass and fall upon it and
devour it. But she reproached herself that he should
have had to discover this need for himself.
Talk. That she reflected had been one of the
great things that had been missing in the opening
months of married life. This morning it was clearly
apparent to her that so spacious and free a life as hers
and Philip's here in Casa Terragena had no right to
exist without a steady flow of lucid and thorough
That was a final precision of something that had
been evolving itself in her mind since first she had
been taken up into the beauty and comfort of this
Italian palace. From the outset there had been a
faint murmuring in her conscience, a murmuring she
spoke of at times as her "Socialism.** She squared
this murmuring with her continued intense enjoy-
ment of her new life by explaining to herself that
people were given these magnificent homes and
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
famous and entrancing gardens and scores of servants
and gardeners and airy lovely rooms with luminous
views of delicately sunlit coastlines, so that they
might lead beautiful exemplary lives that would
enrich the whole world- For the dresses and furnish-
ings, the graces and harmonies of life at Casa Terra-
gena were finally reflected in beauty and better living
all down the social scale. No Socialist State, she was
sure, with everything equal and "divided up" could
create and maintain such a garden as hers, such a
tradition of gardening. That was why she was not
a political socialist. Because she had to be a custo-
dian of beauty and the finer life. That had been her
apology for her happiness, and it was the underlying
motive in her discontent and in her sense of some-
thing wanting, that their life was not sustaining her
apology. They had been given the best of every-
thing and they were not even producing the best of
themselves. They were living without quality.
That was it, they had been living without quality.
Tennis, she reflected, by day and bridge by night.
He was not living like an aristocrat, he was living
like a suburban clerk in the seventh heaven of
He was doing so and yet he didn't want to do so.
He was in some way hypnotised against his secret
craving to do the finest and best with himself. And
he was trying to find a way of release to be the man,
the leader, the masterful figure in human affairs she
surely believed he might be.
How to help him as he deserved to be helped,
when one was clever and understanding perhaps but
not very capable, not very brilliant, and when one
was so easily fatigued. How to help him now par-
ticulariy when one was invaded and half submerged
by the needs of another life?
That was a strand of thought familiar now to Mrs.
Rylands and it twisted its way slowly through her
clear unhurrying mind for the tenth time perhaps or
the twentieth time, with little variations due to the
overnight talk and with an extension now from
Philip to a score of great houses she had visited in
England and wonderful dances and assemblies where
she had seen so many other men and women after his
type, so expensive, so free and so materially happy.
With something inexpressive and futile shadowing
their large magnificence. And interweaving with
this and embracing it now with a suggestion almost
of explanation, was a still more intimate strand in her
philosophy^ her long established conviction that there
was a great excess of Stupids in the world.
Stupids were the enemy. This grey film that
rested upon things, this formalism, this shallowness,
this refusal to take life in a grand and adventurous
way, were all the work of Stupids. Stupids were
her enemies as dogs are the enemies of cats.
Her conception of life as a war for self -preserva-
tion against Stupids dated from the days when she
had been a small, fragile, but intractable child, much
afflicted by governesses in her father's rambling War-
wickshire rectory. Stupids were lumps. Stupids
were obstacles. Stupids were flatteners and diluters
and spoilers of exciting and delightful things. They
told you not to and said it was dinner time. They
wanted you to put on galoshes. They said you
mustn't be too eager to excel and that every one
would laugh at you. "Don't owr-do it/ 1 they said
In the place of your lovely things which they
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
marred, they had disgusting gustoes of their own.
They made ineffable Channel-crossing faces when
one said sensible things about religion and they
abased themselves in an inelegant collapse of loyalty
before quite obviously commonplace people, and
quite obviously absurd institutions. And they wanted
you to! And made fusses and scenes when you
didn't! Oh! Stupids! She met them in the coun-
try-side, she met them again at Somerville College
where she had imagined she would be released into
a company of free and vigorous virgins.
And now in this new life of great wealth and dis-
tinction, in which it ought to be so easy for men and
women to become at least as noble as their furniture
and at least as glorious as their gardens,, there were
moments when it seemed to her that Stupid was
She came back to her idea of Philip as awakening^
as endeavouring to awake, from something- that hyp-
notised him, that had caught him and hypnotised him.
quite early in life. He had been caught by Stupids
and made to respect their opinions and their stand-
ardsj he had been trained to a great and biased
toleration of Stupids, so that they pervaded his life
and wasted his time and interrupted his development.
The Stupids at school had persuaded him that work
was nothing and games were everything* The
Stupids o his set had insisted that most of the Eng-
lish language was a mistake* The Stupids of this
world set their heavy faces against all thought She
saw Philip as struggling in a sort of Stupid quick-
sand,, needing help and not knowing where to find it,
and she herself by no means secure, frantic to help
What if she were to try to do more than she did in
making an atmosphere for Philip? The irruption
and effect of Mr. Sempack had set her enquiring
whether there were not perhaps quite a lot of other
stimulating people to be found, and whether per-
haps it wasn't a wife's place to collect them. Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan of course was clever, clever and
dexterous, but he did not stimulate, and there were
moments when Philip stared at some of Mr. Plan-
tagenet-Buchan's good things as though he couldn't
imagine why on earth they had been said. Tamars
were intelligent but self-contained, they liked to
wander off about the garden, just the two of them,
she evidently listening to an otherwise rather silent
young man, and Lady Catherine again was intelligent
but quite uncultivated, a mental wild rose, a rambler,
a sprawling sweet-briar. Philip seemed to avoid
Tamar, which was natural perhaps since Tamar
showed an equal shyness of Philip, but also he and
Lady Catherine avoided each other, which was odd
seeing how charming they both were. But all the
others of the party ?
The little face on the pillow meditated the inevit-
able verdict reluctantly. The loyalty of the hostess
battled against an invincible truthfulness. * *
She had got together a houseful of Stupids .
Pervasive and contagious Stupids* The struggle
overnight to get the great talk going had been a seri-
ous one, exemplary, illuminating. Nowadays people
like the Bullaces, the Mathisons, and Puppy Clarges,
seemed to assume they had the conversational right
of way. They had no respect for consccutiveness*
They hated to listen. They felt effaced unless
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
they had something to vociferate, and it hardly mat-
tered to them what they vociferated.
How stupid and needless Colonel Bullace's inter-
vention had been? And how characteristic of all
his tribe of Stupids!
He had pricked up his ears at the word Utopia and
coughed and turned a rather deeper pinkj and after
the third repetition and apropos of nothing in par-
ticular, he had addressed Mr. Sempack in an abrupt,
caustic and aggressive manner. He cut across an un-
finished sentence to do so.
"I suppose, Sir," he had said, "you find your
Utopia in Moscow?"
Mr. Sempack had regarded him as a landscape
might regard a puppy. "What makes you suppose
that? "he asked
"Well! isn't it so, Sir? Isn't it so?"
Mr. Sempack had turned away his face again*
"No," he said over his shoulder and resumed his
Then Bombaccio, wisest and most wonderful of
servants, had nudged Colonel Bullace's elbow with
the peas and the new potatoes and diverted his at-
tention and effaced him. But surely it was wrong to
have people in one's house at all if they required
that amount of suppression. Yet how often in the
last few months had she heard talk effaced by Stupids
like Colonel Bullace. Full of ready-made opinions
they were, full of suspicions, they would not even
assuage by listening to what they wanted to condemn.
Dear Miss Fenimore again was a demi-Stupid, a
Stupid in effect, an acquiescent Stupid, willing per-
haps but diluent to everything that had point and
quality, and Lady Grieswold had been knowingly and
wilfully invited as a Stupid, a bridge Stupid to gratify
and complete the Bullaces. Her bridge was awful
it seemed, but then Mrs. Bullace's bridge was awful.
The Mathisons were a less clamorous sort of
Stupid than Colonel Bullace, but more insidious and
perhaps more deadly. They did not contradict and
deny fine things 5 silently they denied. These Mathi-
sons had been brought along by Philip and Geoffrey
and they were to exercise him at tennis. They did,
every day. For two of his best hours in the morn-
ing and sometimes after tea Philip strove to play a
better game than the Mathisons, with either Geoffrey
or Puppy as his partner. It tried him. It exasper-
ated him. He detested and despised Mathison, she
perceived, as much as she did, but he would not let
him go and he would always play against him. He
could not endure, and that was where the Stupids had
him fast, that a man so inferior as Mathison, so cheap-
minded, so flat-mannered, should have the better of
him at anything.
They all conspired to put it upon Phil that his
form at tennis mattered. She would go down to the
court helplessly distressed to see her god, hot aad
over-polite and in a state of furious self -control,
while Puppy and the others who was it? Miss
Fenimore and some one? Mr. Haulbowlinc! that
shadow, sat in wicker chairs and either applauded or
regretted working him up.
She smiled and affected interest and all the time
her soul was crying out: "Philip, my darling! It's
the cream of your strength and the heart of your
day you're giving to the conquest of Mr. Mathison,
And it doesn't matter in the least It doesn ? t matter
REFLECTIONS IN A BIG BED
in the very least, whether you beat him or whether
you don ? t. ??
Geoffrey too it seems played a better game than
Philip. But that was an accepted superiority.
Geoffrey was a deeper, more complex kind of
Stupid altogether than these others. And yet so like
Philip } as like Philip as a mask is like a face. Geoffrey
was the bad brother of the family; he had been sent
down from Eton; he did nothing; he looked at his
sister-in-law askance. Philip was too kind to him. He
drifted in and out of Casa Terragena at his own invi-
tation. A moral Stupid, she knew he was, with chal-
lenge and disbelief in his eyes, and yet with a queer
hold upon Philip. And an occult understanding with
Puppy. When Geoffrey was about, Philip would
rather die than say a serious thing.
And then as the accent upon all this Stupid side of
the house-party was Puppy Clarges, strident and
hard, a conflict of scent and cigarette smoke, with the
wit of a music hall and an affectedly flat loud voice.
She was tall as Catherine, but she had no grace, no
fluency of line. Her body ran straight and hard and
then suddenly turned Its corners as fast as possible.
Noj they made an atmosphere, an atmosphere in
which it was impossible for Philip to get free from
his limitations. It was his wife's task if it was any
one's task to dispel that atmosphere. Drive it out
by getting in something better of which Mr. Sem-
pack was to be regarded as a type.
It wasn't going to be easy to change this loose
Terragena atmosphere. It was not to be thought of
that a wife should set brother against brother . . .
Her mind was too indolent this morning to face
baffling problems* For a time it lost itself and then
she found herself thinking again with a certain un-
avoidable antagonism of Puppy Clarges. Why was
a girl of that sort tolerated? She was rude, she was
troublesome, she was occasionally indecent and she
professed to be unchaste. Yet when Mrs- Rylands
had mentioned the possibility of Puppy moving on
somewhere, if other visitors were to be invited, Philip
had said: "Oh, don't turn out old Puppy. She's all
right. She's amusing. She's very good fun. She's
so good for Lady Tamar."
The shadow of perplexed speculation rested upon
the pretty face against the pillows. It was not so
much that Mrs. Rylands disliked Puppy as that she
failed so completely and distressingly even to begin
to understand the reaction of her world to this an-
gular and aggressive young woman.
Puppy boasted by implication and almost by plain
statement of her lovers.
Who could love that body of pot-hooks and hang-
ers? Love was an affair of bcautyj first and last
it had to be beautiful* How could any one set about
making love to Puppy? When men made love
Mrs. Rylands generalised boldly from the one man
she knew when men made love, they were adorably
diffident, they trembled, they were inconceivably,
wonderfully tender and worshipful. Love, when
one dared to think of love, came into one's mind as
a sacrament, a miracle, a mutual dissolution, as whis-
pers in the shadows, as infinite loveliness and a glory.
Love was pity, was tears, was a great harmony of all
that was gentle, gracious, proud and aspiring in exist-
ence, towering up to an ecstasy of sense and spirit-
But Puppy? The very thought of Puppy and a
lover was obscene.
IN THE CAATINGA. I,
And she had lovers.
How different must be their quality from Philip's!
The idea came from nowhere into Mrs. Rylands'
mind that life had two faces and that one was hidden
from her. Life and perhaps everything in life had
two faces. This queer idea had come into her mind
like an uninvited guest She had always thought
before of Stupids as defective and troublesome peo-
ple against whom one had to maintain one's lif e, but
against whom there was no question whatever of
being able to maintain one's life. But suppose there
was something behind the Stupid in life, nearly as
great, if not quite as great as greatness, nearly as
great, if not quite so great as nobility and beauty.
Suppose one lay in bed too long, and held empti-
ness of life, idleness, shallowness, noise and shame-
lessness, too cheaply? Suppose while one lay in bed,
they stole a march upon one?
The mistress of Casa Terragena lay very still for
some moments and then her hand began to feel for
the bell-push that was swathed in the old-fashioned
silk bell-pull behind her. She had decided to get up.
THERE was a waterless part of the gardens at
Terragena that was called the Caatinga, No-
body knew why it had that namej there was
no such word in Italian and whatever justifications
old Rylands had for its use were long since for-
gotten. Possibly it was Spanish-American or a frag-
ment from some Red Indian tongue. The Caatinga
was a region of high brown rocky walls and ribs and
buttresses and recesses and hard extensive flats of sun-
burnt stone, through which narrow winding paths and
steps had been hewn from one display to another}
one came into its reverberating midday heat through
two cavernous arches of rock with a slope of streaming
mesembryanthemum^ fleshy or shrivelled, between
them, and a multitude of agaves in thorny groups, of
gigantic prickly pears in intricate contortions, of cac-
tuses and echinocactus, thick jungles of spiky and
leathery exotics, gave a strongly African quality to its
shelves and plateaux and ridges and theatre-like bays.
Only the wide variety of the plants and an occasional
label betrayed the artificiality of this crouching, ma-
lignantly defensive vegetation. "African," said some
visitors, but others, less travelled or more imagina-
tive, said, "This might be in some other planet, in
Mars or in the moon." Or they said it looked like
life among the rocks under the sea.
Some obscure sympathy with a scene that was at
once as real as Charing Cross and as strange as a
Utopia may have drawn Mr, Sempack to this region^
away from the more familiar beauties and prcttinesses
of Casa Terragena. At any rate, he made it his
resort} he spread out his loose person upon such rare
stony seats as were to be found there and either
basked meditatively or read or wrote in a little note-
book, his soft black felt hat thrust back so that its
brim was a halo.
And thither also, drawn by still obscurer forces,
came Lady Catherine, slightly dressed in crepe
georgette and carrying an immense green-lined sun
umbrella that had once belonged to the ancestral
Rylands* She stood over Mr* Sempack like Venus in
a semi-translucent mist* She spoke with a mingling
of hostility and latent proprietorship in her manner.
IN THE CAATINGA. I,
will either blister or boll if you sit up here
to-day," she said.
"I like it," said Mr. Sempack without disputing
her statement, or showing any disposition to rear-
She remained standing over him. She knew that
her level-browed face, looked-up-to and a little f ore-
shortened, was at its bravest and most splendid.
"We seem able to talk of nothing down here but the
things you said the other night."
Mr. Sempack considered this remark without emo-
tion. "The Mathisons?"
"They never talk. They gibber sport and chewed
Daily Mail. But the others "
"She's a little hostile to you. You don't mind?"
"I like her. But still"
"She thinks you've set our minds working and she
doesn't like minds working. I suppose it's because
the Colonel's makes such unpleasant noises when it
works. She said How did she put it? That
you had taken all the chez-nouziness out o Gasa
"You made me talk."
"I loved it."
"I didn't want to talk and disturb people."
"I wanted you to."
"I do go on, you know, when I'm started."
"You do. And you did it so well that almost you
persuaded me to be a Utopian. But I've been think-
ing it over." The lady spoke lightly and paused, and
only a sudden rotation of the large umbrella be-
trayed the deceptiveness of her apparent calm. "It's
nonsense you know. It's all nonsense. I don't be-
lieve a word of it, this spreading web of science of
yours, that will grow and grow until all our little
affairs are caught by it and put in place like flies. 3 *
She indicated a vast imaginary spider's web with
the extended fingers of her large fine hand. She
threw out after the rest, "Geometrical," a premedi-
tated word that had somehow got itself left out of
her premeditated speech. "You won't alter human
life like that."
Mr. Sempack lifted one discursive eyebrow an inch
or so and regarded her with a mixture of derision and
admiration. "It won't affect you much," he said,,
"but life will alter as I have said*"
'Wo," said the lady firmly.
Mr. Sempack shrugged his face at the prickly
Lady Catherine considered the locality and
perched herself on a lump of rock so high that her
legs extended straight in front of her. His note-
making must stop for awhile. "It doesn't matter in
the least what is going to happen on the other side of
time," she said. "You make it seem to, but it
"Things are happening now," said Mr* Sempack*
Lady Catherine decided to ignore that. She had
prepared certain observations while she had been
dressing that morning and she meant to make them.
She was not going to be deflected by unexpected re-
plies. "As I thought it over the fallacy of all you
said became plain to me. The fallacy of it. It
became ridiculous. I saw that life is going to be what
it has always been, competition, struggle, strong peo-
ple seizing opportunities, honest people keeping
faith, some people being loyal and brave and fine *
IN THE CAATINGA, I,
and ail that, and others mean and wicked. There
will always be flags and kings and empires for people
to be loyal to. Religion will always come back}
we need it in our troubles. Life is always going to
be an adventure. Always. For the brave. Nothing
will change very much in these permanent things.
There will be only changes of fashion. What you
said about people all becoming one was nonsense
becoming unified and forgetting themselves and
even their own honour. I just woke up and saw it
"You just lost your grip on what I had been say-
ing/' said Mr. Sempack.
"It was an awakening.' 7
"It was a relapse."
Lady Catherine reverted to her mental notes. a l
shook it off. I looked at myself and I looked at the
sunshine and I saw you had just been talking my
world away. And leaving nothing in the place o
it. I went downstairs and there on the terrace were
those six Roman busts that have been dug up there,
faces exactly like the faces of people one sees to-day,
the silly one with the soft beard most of all, and I
went out past that old tombstone, you know, the one
with an inscription to the delightful Ludna, that Mrs.
Rylands has just had put up again, and I thought of
how there had been just such a party as we are, in
the Roman villa that came before the Rylands. Per-
haps Lucina was like Cynthia, I think she was.
Very likely there was a Greek Sophist to anticipate
you. All hairy and dogmatic but rather attractive.
Talking wickedly about the Empire because he
thought it really didn't matter. And hundreds and
hundreds of years ahead, somebody will still be liv-
ing in this delightful spot and people will be making
love and eating and playing and hearing the latest
news and talking about how different everything will
be in the days to come, Sur 1$ Pierre 'Blanche.
There will still be a good Bombaccio keeping the
servants in order and little maids slipping out to make
love to the garden-boys under the trees when the
fireflies dance. And there you are! '*
"There am I not" said Mr, Sempack* "But there
most evidently you are? 3
He waved his dispersed limbs about for some
secondsj it reminded her of the octopus In the Monaco
Aquarium^ collected them and came to a sitting posi*
tioiij facing her.
"Talking of sane things to you is like talking to a
swan/* he said. "Or a bird of paradise."
She smiled her most queenly at him and waited for
"You seem to understand language/ 1 he said.
"But unless it refers to you 9 in your world of accept-
ance and illusion., it means nothing to you at all."
"You mean that my healthy mind, being a thor-
oughly healthy mind^ rejects nonsense? 1
"I admit its health* 1 regret its normality. But
what it rejects is the unpalatable and the irrelevant.
The truth is as inrelevant to you as a chemical balance
to a butterfly,**
"And to you?**
"1 am disposed to make myself relevant to the
truth. It is my peculiarity.**
Lady Catherine had a giddy feeling that the talk
was terribly high and intellectual. But she held
on pluckily, W I don't admit that your truth is the
truth* I stick to my own convictions* 1 believe in
IN THE CAATINGA. I.
the things that are, the human things. 59 She gathered
herself for a great effort of expression. She let the
umbrella decline until it lay upturned at her side,
throwing up a green tone into her shadows. "I be-
lieve that the things that don't matter, aretft" she
"Your world is flat?" he verified.
"It has its hills and valleys," she corrected.
"But as for its being a globe? 35
She took the point magnificently. "Mere words, 5 *
she said. "Just a complicated way of saying that you
can keep on going west and get home without a re-
turn ticket. 57
"An odd fact, 55 he helped her, "but not one to
brood upon. 55
"But you brood on things like that. 55
"You have a philosophy. 55
"Common sense. 55 And she restored the umbrella
to its duty.
"Suppose the world is a ball, 55 she returned to the
charge, "that doesn 5 t make it a pill that you can
swallow. It doesn 5 t even make it a ball you can play
football with. But you go about believing that
because it is round, presently you will be able to
trundle it about. 55
"You have quite a good philosophy/ 5 he said.
"It works anyhow, 55 she retorted.
"I did not know that you ran your life on nearly
such a good road-bed. I think I think your
philosophy is as good as mine. So far as your present
activities are concerned. I didn 5 t imagine you had
thought it out to this extent* 55
"I thought it out last night and this morning be-
cause your talk had bothered me. 5>
Mr. Sempack made no reply for some moments.
He remained regarding her in silence with an ex-
pression on his face that she had seen before on other
faces. And when he spoke, what he said was to be-
gin with, similar to other speeches that had followed
that expression in her previous experiences.
CC I suppose that many people have told you that
you are extraordinarily beautiful and young and
proud and clever ?"
She met his eyes with studied gravity, though
she was really very much elated to have got this
much from the great Mr. Sempack* "Shall I pre-
tend I don't think Fm good looking?" she asked.
"You are and you are full of life, happy in your-
self, sure of yourself and of your power, through
us, over your universe. Naturally your time is the
present. Naturally you are wholly in the drama,
and you don't want even to think of the time before
the curtain went up and still less of the time when
the curtain will come down. You are Life, at the
crest. Your philosophy expresses that* Your reli-
gion is just touching for luck and returning thanks.
1 wouldn't alter your philosophy. But most of us
are not like you. What is life for you is ^Meanwhile*
for most of us 7?
"There is too much meanwhile in the world,** said
Lady Catherine after a moment's reflection, and met
Ms eyes more than even
"What would you have us do?"
"Believe as I do that things are here and now?'
Mr. Scmpack's eyes fell to her feet. His thoughts
seemed to have sunken to great profundities. Still
musing darkly he stood up and lifted his eyes to
IN THE CAATINGA, II*
her face. "Well," he said, with the shadow of a
sigh in his voice j "here goes. 55
And taking her by the elbow of the arm that held
the umbrella and by the opposite shoulder, in his
own extensive hands, he drew her into a standing
position and kissed her very seriously and thoroughly
on the mouth. She received his salutation with an
almost imperceptible acquiescence. It was a very
good serious kiss. He kissed her without either un-
seemly haste or excessive delay. But his body was
quivering, which was as it should be. They stood
close together for some moments while the kiss con-
tinued. His hands fell from her. Then, as if it
explained everything, he said: "I wanted to do that."
"And I hope you are satisfied?' 7 she said with the
laugh of one who protests astonishment.
"Not satisfied but assuaged. Shall we sit down
iagain? You will find it much more comfortable if
you sit beside me here."
"You are the most remarkable man I have ever
met," she said, and obeyed his suggestion.
"T RARELY do things of this sort," said Mr.
I Sempack, as though he was saying that the
**" weather was fine. He adjusted his hat, his
respectable, almost clerical hat, which showed a dis-
position to retire from his brazen brow altogether.
"You are a really wonderful man," said Lady
Catherine, leaning towards him, and her expression
was simple and sincere.
"You are a really wonderful man," she repeated
before he could reply, "and now I feel I can talk to
you plainly. I have never met any one for a long
time who has Impressed me as you have done. You
are an astonishing discovery .*'
Mr. Sempack had half turned towards her so
that they sat side by side and face to face with their
glowing faces quite close together. It was extraor-
dinary that a man who was so ungainly a week and
a roomys breath away should become quite attrac-
tive and exciting and with the nicest^ warmest eyes at
a distance of a few inches. But it was so. "It is rare/ 3
he saidj "that I come back so completely to the pres-
ent as you have made me do.' 3
"Come back to the present and reality/* she urged.
"For good. That Is what 1 wanted to say to you, 1
have been watching you all these days and wonder-
Ing about you. You are the most exciting thing
here. Much the most exciting thing. You have a
force and an effect. You have a tremendous effect of
personality. I never met any one with so much per-
sonality. And you go so straight for things. 1 know
all the political people at home who matter In, the
least. And not one of them matters in the least*
There is not one who has your quality of strength and
conviction; not one. Why do you keep out of things?
Instead of talking and writing of what Is coming j
why don*t you make it corned
"Oh! said Mr. Sempack and recoiled a little.
"You could dominate/* she said.
"I wasn't thinking of politics or dominating just
then/* he explained, "1 was thinking of- you.**
"That's thrown in* But there has to be a setting.
You seem to be masterful and yet you decline to be
masterful. I am excited by you and I want you
masterful. I want to see you mastering things.
IN THE CAATINGA, II,
The world is waiting for confident and masterful
men. See how Italy has snatched at Mussolini. See
how everything at home waits for a decisive voice
and a firm hand. It wants a man who is sure as you
are sure to grip all this sedition and discontent and
feeble mindedness. All parties the same. I'm not
taking sides. Philip doesn't seem to know his own
mind for five minutes together* And he owns coal
Mr. Sempack had gradually turned from her dur-
ing this speech, "Philip?" he questioned himself in
a whisper. He drooped perceptibly.
His tone when he spoke was calmly elucidatory.
"When we were talking about those things the
other night/ 3 he remarked, "I did my best to explain
just why it was that one could not do anything very
much of a positive sort now. Perhaps what I said
wasn't clear. The thing that has to happen before
anything real can crystallise out in the way of a new
state of affairs is a great change in the ideas of people
at large. That is the real job in hand at present.
Reconstructing people's ideas. To the best of my
ability I am making my contribution to that now.
I don't see what else can be done."
He was looking at her no longer. He gave her
his profile. The glow seemed to have gone out
"But that is not living," she said, with a faint
flavour of vexation in her voice. "Meanwhile you
must have a life of your own, a life that hurts and
He regarded her gravely. "That I suppose is
why I kissed you."
She met his eyes and perceived that the glow had
not vanished beyond recall.
"Live now instead of all this theorising" she
whispered. "You are so strange a person You
could make an extraordinary figure."
He turned from her, pulled up a great knee with
his long hands, slanted his head on one side, consid-
ered the proposition,
"You think" j he weighed itj "I should project
myself upon the world, flapping and gesticulating,
making a great noise* It wouldn't you know be a
lucid statement, but it would no doubt have an air.
A prophetic raven. Something between Peter the
Hermit, William Jennings Bryan and the great Mr.
Gladstone on campaign? Leading people stupen-
dously into unthought-of ditches. And leaving
them," He turned an eye on her and it occurred
to her to ask herself, though she could not wait
for the answer, whether he was laughing either at
her or at himself. He shook his head slowly from
side to side. "No," he concluded.
"We have to learn from the men of science," he
supplemented, "that the way to be effective in life is
to avoid being personally great- or any such glories
a But how can a woman enter into the life of a
man who just sits about and thinks and tries it over
in talk and writes it down?"
"My dear you are my dear, you know she can't,
But do you dream that some day you and I perhaps
might ride together into a conquered city? Beauty
and the Highbrow."
"You could do great things."
a Af ter the election, our carriage, horses taken out,
IN THE CAATINGA. II,
dragged by the shouting populace to the Parliament
"You caricature. 55
"Not so very much. You are, my dear, the love-
liest thing alive. 1 can't imagine anything more
sweet and strong and translucent. I am altogether
in love with you. My blood runs through my veins,
babbling about you and setting every part of me afire.
You stir me like great music. You fill me with in-
appeasable regrets. But Between us there is a
great gulf fixed. I live to create a world and you
are the present triumph of created things. 55
She said nothing but she willed herself to be mag-
netic and intoxicating.
Mr. Sempack however was carried past her siren
radiations by the current of his thoughts.
"I doubt/ 5 he reflected, "if life has very much
more use for a perfect thing, for finished grace and
beauty, than an artist has for his last year 5 s master-
piece. Life grows the glorious fruit and parts from
it. The essential fact about life is imperfection.
Life that ceases to struggle away from whatever it is
towards something that it isn 5 t, is ceasing to be life. 55
"Just as if I were inactive! 55 she remarked.
"You 5 re splendidly active, 55 he said with a smile
like sunlight breaking over rugged scenery: "but it 5 s
all in a set and defined drama. Which is nearing the
end of its run. 55
"You mean I am no positive good in the world
at all. A back number. 55
"Good! You 5 re necessary. For the excitement,
disappointment, and humiliation of the people who
will attack the real creative tasks. Consider what
you are doing! Out of whim. Out of curiosity.
You shine upon me, you dazzle me, you are suddenly
friendly to me and tender to me. I forget my self-
forgetfulness. I dare to kiss you. It seems almost
incredible to me but you You make it seem pos-
sible that I might go far with your loveliness. You
bring me near to forgetting what I am, a thing like
an intellectual Megatherium, slow but sturdy, mixed
up with joints like a rockfall and a style like St.
Simeon Stylites and infinite tedious toil of the
spirit and you make me dream of the pride of a
"Dream" she whispered, and radiated a complete
But the mental inertia of Mr. Sempack was very
great. Certain things were in his mind to say and
he went on saying them.
"I don't want to be brought back to this sort of
thing. After I have so painfully got away from it.
I don ? t want to have my illusions restored. It un-
makes one* It is necessary before one cm do one
solitary good thing in life that one should be humili-
ated and totally disillusioned about oneself. One isn't
bora to any living reality until one has escaped from
one's prepossession with the personal life. The per-
sonal life branches off from the stem to die. The
reality of life is to contribute* * . , J>
His expression ceased to be indifferent and became
obstinate* He was beginning to feel and struggle
against her nearness* But he held on for a time*
"All the things in human life that are worth while
have been done by clumsy and inelegant people, by
people in violent conflict with themselves by people
who blundered and who remain blundering people*
They hurt themselves and awake* You know iu>th
APPARITION OF MRS. RYLANDS
ing of the Inner life of the ungracious. You know
nothing of being born as a soul. The bitterness. The
reluctant search for compensations. The acceptance
of the fact that service must be our beauty. But now
this freak of yours brings back to me the renuncia-
tions, the suppressions and stifling of desire, that be-
gan in my boyhood and darkened my adolescence. I
thought I had built myself up above all these
"You are majestic/ 3 she whispered.
"Oh, nonsense!" He groaned it and, wavering
for a moment, turned upon her hungrily and drew
her to him.
No soundly beautiful woman has ever doubted
that a man is better than a mirror for the realisation
of her delight in herself, and it was with the pro-
f oundest gratification that Lady Catherine sensed the
immense appreciations of his embrace. Her kiss, her
rewarding and approving kiss, was no ordinary kiss,
for she meant to plant an ineffaceable memory.
THE triumphant self -absorption of Lady Cath-
erine, a mood that comprehended not merely
self-absorption but the absorption therewith
of this immense and exciting and unprecedented Mr.
Sempack, gave place abruptly to an entirely different
state of mind, to astonishment and even a certain
consternation. Central to this new phase of con-
sciousness, was the vividly sunlit figure of little Mrs.
Rylands, agape. Agape she was, dismayed, as though
she had that instant been suddenly and horribly stung.
A sound between the "Oo-er" of an infantile aston-
ishment and a cry of acute pain had proclaimed her.
She stood in the blaze of the Caatinga, flushed and
distressed, altogether at a loss in the presence of her
surprising guests. She was bareheaded and she car-
ried no sunshade. Her loose-robed figure had the
effect of a small child astray.
A swift automatic disentanglement of Lady Cath-
erine and Mr. Sempack had occurred. By rapid
gradations all three recovered their social conscious-
ness. In a moment they were grouped like actors
who have momentarily forgotten their cues, but are
about to pick them up again. Mr. Sempack stood up
It was Lady Catherine who was first restored to
"I have been telling Mr. Sempack that he ought
to come into public life/ 7 she said. "He is too great
a man to remain aloof writing books/'
Mrs. Rylands' expression was enigmatical. She
seemed to be listening and trying to remember the
meaning of the sounds she heard. It dawned upon
Lady Catherine that her eyes were red with recent
weeping. What had happened? Was this some
mood of her condition?
Then Mrs, Rylands took control of herself, la
another moment she was the hostess of Casa Terra-
gena again, with the edge of her speech restored.
"You've been persuading him very delightfully, Pm
sure, dearest," she smiled, the smile of a charming
hostess if a little wet about the eyes. "Is he going
"No," said Mr. Sempack, speaking down with
large tranquil decision. But his mind was upon Mrs*
APPARITION OF MRS. RYLANDS
A different line of treatment had occurred to Lady
Catherine. She snatched at it hastily. She aban-
doned the topic of Mr. Sempack and his career.
"But, my dear!" she cried. "What 'are you doing
in this blazing sun? You ought to be tucked away
in a hammock in the shade!"
Mrs. Rylands evidently thought this sudden turn
of topic disconcerting. She stared at this new re-
mark as if she disliked it extremely and did not know
what to do with it.
Then she broke down. "Everybody seems to
think I ought to be tucked away somewhere," she
said, and fairly sobbed. "I've done the unexpected.
I've put everybody out."
She stood weeping like a child. Consternation fell
upon Lady Catherine. Mutely she consulted Mr.
Sempack and a slight but masterly movement indi-
cated that he would be better left alone with Mrs.
Rylands. His wish marched with Lady Catherine's
own impulse to fly.
"Pve got letters, lots of letters," she said. "I'm
forgetting them. I was talking. To post in Monte
Carlo this afternoon. If we go, that is."
Mrs. Rylands seemed to approve of this sugges-
tion of a retreat and Lady Catherine became a reced-
ing umbrella that halted in the rocky archway for a
vague undecided retrospect and then disappeared.
Mrs. Rylands remained standing, looking at the
archway. She had an air of standing there because
she had nowhere else in the whole world to go, and
looking at the archway because there was nothing else
on earth to look at. She might have been left on a
platform by a train, the only possible train, she had
intended to take.
"I thought I would talk to you/ 3 she said 5 not
looking at Mr. Sempack ? but still contemplating the
vanished back of Lady Catherine.
"It is too hot for us to be here," said Mr. Sempack,
taking hold of the situation. "Quite close round the
corner beyond the stone pines^ there is shade and
running water and a seat."
"It was absurd, but I thought I would talk to
you," Her intonation implied that this was no
longer a possibility.
Mr. Sempack made no Immediate reply.
The first thing to do he perceived was to get Mrs,
Rylands out of the blaze of the sun* Then more
was required of him. Evidently she had been as-
sailed by some sudden, violent, and nearly unbearable
trouble. Something had struck her, sonic passionate
shocking blow, that had detached her spinning gid-
dily from everything about her. And she had thought
of him as large, intelligent, immobile, neutral
above all and in every sense neutral, as indeed a con-
venient bulk, a sympathetic disinterested bulk, to
which one might cling in a torrent of dismay, and
which might even have understanding to hold one on
if at any time one's clinging relaxed* He had been
the only possible father confessor* Scxlessness was a
primary necessity to that. In this particular case* For
he knew, the thought emerged with unchallenged as-
surance, that her trouble concerned Philip and
Philip's fidelity. And instead of finding a priest! she
had, just at this phase when the idea of embraces was
altogether revolting to her, caught him embracing.
He glimpsed her present vision of the whole world
as lying, betraying, and steamily, illicitly intertwined.
And since his instincts and his habits of mind were all
APPARITION OF MRS. RYLANDS
for resolving the problems of others and extracting
whatever was helpful in the solution, since he liked
his little hostess immensely and was ready not only
to help in general but anxious to help her in particu-
lar, he did his best to push the still glowing image of
Lady Catherine into the background of his mind and
set himself to efface the bad impression their so inti-
mate grouping had made upon Mrs. Rylands.
With an entirely mechanical submission to his in-
itiative she was walking beside him towards the shade
when he spoke.
"I was talking about myself to Lady Catherine/ 3
he said, and paused to help his silent companion down
a stepway* "I think I betrayed a certain sense of my
ungainliness. ... I am ungainly. . . . Lady Cath-
erine is full of generous impulsive helpfulness and
her method of reassuring me was dramatic and
Mrs. Rylands made no immediate reply.
A score or so of paces and they were in the
chequered shade of the stone pines and then a zigzag
had taken them out of the Caatinga altogether and
down to a gully, with a trickle of water and abundant
ferns and horse-tails and there in a cool cavernous
place, that opened to them like a blessing^ was a long
seat of wood* Mrs. Rylands sat down. Mr. Sem-
pack stood over her, a little at a loss.
"I thought I might talk to you, 53 she repeated. "I
thought I might be able to talk to you."
a And now something has spoilt me," he said.
"Perhaps I know how you feel. ... I wish . . .
If you cannot talk to me, perhaps you will let me
sit down here and even, it may be, presently say a
word or so to you."
He sat down slowly beside her and became quite
"The world has gone ugly/* she said.
He stirred, a rustle of interrogation.
"It is all cruel and ugly," she burst out. "Ugly!
I wish I were dead."
Mr. Sempack did not look at her. She swallowed
her tears unobserved. "I was afraid this would hap-
pen to you," he said, "from the very moment I saw
you. Afraid! I knew it had to happen to you."
She looked at him in astonishment. "But how do
you know what has happened?"
"I don't. That is I know no particulars. But I
know you thought of a life, subtle and fine as Vene-
tian glass, and I know that is all shattered."
"I thought life could be clean and fine."
Mr. Sempack made no answer for a moment.
Then he said: "And how do you know it isn't clean
"He told me lies. At least he acted lies. He
pretended she was nothing "
Mr, Sempack considered that* "Has it ever oc-
curred to you that your husband Is a very young
man? Sensitive minded and fine."
"Yes. In spite of everything. And telling a
harsh truth is one of the last things we learn to do.
Most of us never do. He hasn't told all sorts of
hard truths even to himself."
"Hard truths and harsh truths!" said the lady, as
though she did her best to apprehend Mr* Sent-
pack's indications. "You don't know the bru-
tality . "
APPARITION OF MRS, RYLANDS
"And she is nothing to him," said Mr. Sempack
"You don't understand what has happened. There
they were. In the little bathing chalet. . . ."
Her woe deepened. "Any one might have come
"Perhaps they had accounted for everybody but
"My fault then."
"They saw you?"
"Oh! they saw me."
"And he stayed with her?"
"No. He came after me almost at once."
"You told him to go back to her."
"How do you know?"
"It was the first thing to say. And he didn't go
"He tried to excuse himself?"
"That was difficult."
"He said horrible things. Oh, horrible!"
Mr. Sempack's silence was an, invincible question
and moreover Mrs. Rylands was driven by an irre-
sistible impulse to tell the dreadful things that
threatened to become destructive and unspeakable
monstrosities if they were not thrust out while
they still had some communicable form. Even
now she told them with a shadow of doubt in her
"He said, *I can't live this life of milk and water.
I must get excited somehow or I shall burst!' "
"That stated a case," said Mr. Sempack with de-
liberation. "That stated a case."
She weighed this for some moments as though she
felt it ought to mean something. Then she seemed
to feel about in her mind for a lost thread and re-
sumed: CC I said nothing. I hurried on."
"He asked you to listen?"
"I couldn't. Not then."
"You went on and he followed that extremely
inarticulate young man 5 trying to express things that
he felt but could not understand. And you were in
blind flight from something you did not wish to un-
"He caught hold of me and I dragged myself
Mr. Sempacfc waited patiently.
"He shouted out c Oh y helP very loudly and
dropped behind, I don't know where he went. He
is somewhere down there. Perhaps he went back
"And that was how it happened?"
"Yes," she said, "it happened like that."
She stared in front of her for a long time^ and M r
Sempack had so much to say that he^found himself
unable to say anything. To meet this case a whole
philosophy was needed The silence unrolled*
"My Philip!" she whispered at last
It was clear that whatever Idea she had had of
talking to Mr. Serapack had evaporated from her
mind "I don't know why 1 have told you of this/ 1
she said at last with the slightest turn of her head
towards him. "The heat * * . I shall go back to
bed, Put myself away*"
She stood up*
u l will come back with you as far as the house if 1
may/ 5 .said Mr. Sempack.
They walked in the complctest silence. Not
even a consolatory word came to him.
THE HALL OF CASA TERRAGENA
He watched her vanish between the white pillars
into the deep cool shadows of the hall. "Poor young
people! What a mess it is!" he said, and entirely
oblivious of Lady Catherine, standing splendidly at
the great staircase window and ready to descend at a
word, he walked, downcast and thoughtful, along an
aisle o arum lilies towards a great basin full of
nuphar. He clasped his hands behind him and
humped one shoulder higher than the other. His
shambling legs supported him anyhow.
Here was something that it was immensely neces-
sary to think out, and to think out into serviceable
conclusions soon. He could not attend to the outly-
ing parts of his person.
TO Bombaccio, the first intimation that some-
thing had gone wrong in the house party of
Terragena was brought by Miss Puppy
Clarges. He had been putting out the English
papers oa the hall table and touching and patting
the inkpots and pens and blotting-pads on the writ-
ing-tables in the southern recess of the hall and medi-
tating on the just position of the various waste-paper
baskets, and blessing and confirming all such minor
amenities, when she came in. He wore a diamond
ring, not one with an exceptional diamond like Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan's, but just a diamond ring, and
as he did things he exercised himself in a rather nice
attitude with the hand upheld, that Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan affected. It seemed to Bombaccio a desir-
able attitude. She came in from the terrace towards
the sea while he was posed in this way. She gave his
hand a passing unintelligent glance and spoke
brusquely. "Bombaccio/ 5 she said, "I have to clear
out at once. Pve had a telegram that my half-sister
in Nice is very ill."
"But/ 3 said Bombaccio., "I did not know the Si-
gnorina had had a telegram."
"Nor any one else. Wonderful how it got to me;
isn't it? But it did and don't you forget it. Don't
you give way to any weakening on that point. Pve
had a telegram that my half-sister in Nice is very ill
and now Pve told you you know Pve had it."
Bombaccio bowed with grave submission.
"Off I go to pack and down I come to go. What
"I'll ask Mrs. Rylands."
"Don't, Just get me that old Fiat in the village
and I'll clatter down to the station at Mentone right
away. As soon as poss. It's a case of life and
"The next train for Nice/ 1 reflected Bombaccio,
"does not depart "
"Don't go into figures," said Miss Clarges* "Tel-
ephone and get that auto now."
She reflected, knuckle to lip. "Wait a moment,"
she said. "Pll write a note two notes."
She went to a writing-table, placed a sheet before
her, chose a pen and meditated briefly. Bombaccio
waited. Then her pen flew. One note she addressed
to her hostess. It was a note of exceptional brevity
and it was unsigned. "Sorry? wrote Miss Clargesu
a Pm and I wontt worry you again."
"Sorry I got caught/' Miss Clarges remarked to
herself, and licked the envelope. "Foah we were. 1 *
Then she directed a more elaborate epistle to Mr*
THE HALL OF CASA TERRAGENA
Geoffrey Rylands. "Dear Geoff she scribbled,
"That Limitless Field Preacher has got on my
nerves. Another meal of talk with him and Mr.
Pantaloon Buchan and I shall scream. Pve fled to
the Superba at Dear Old Monty. Where my friends
can find me, bless y em. A rividerci, Pufpy"
That got its swift lick also and a whack to stick it
"Here's the documents!" she said.
Bombaccio was left developing a series of bows
and gestures to express that all things in the world
would be as the Signorina wished, while Miss Puppy
vanished upstairs. Then he went slowly and thought-
fully to the telephone.
But he did not telephone. He hated the man who
owned the old Fiat and there were two cars in the
garage. One of them was booked for Monte Carlo
after lunch, but that was no reason why Signorina
Clarges should not have the other. In the well-
known Terragena car she'd go through the French
douane like a bird} in the hired car she wouldn't.
He would consult Signora Rylands. Or Signor
And on reflection it became more and more dis-
tinctly unusual that a guest should depart in this
fashion without some intimation from either host or
hostess. There was something wrong in that. The
fact of Signorina Clarges' swift passage upstairs, orig-
inally a bare fact, became encrusted with interroga-
tions j the brow of Bombaccio was troubled. She
was giving all the orders. What should a perfect
Signora Rylands, he believed, was still in bed
and inaccessible. Signor Rylands? Signor Rylands?
But ? Consider ? He had gone off with Si-
gnorina Clarges to swim. Yes. Something must
have happened. Where was Mr. Rylands now?
Why was he not ordering the car for the Signorina
Clarges? Had he by any chance insulted her and
was she departing insulted?
But then, was it possible to insult the Signorina
Perhaps the best thing would be to consult
Frantj Mrs. Rylands 5 maid ? a stupid English person
who mistook secretiveness for discretion, but still
the only possible source of indications just at
present. . , .
These questionings were abruptly interrupted by
the appearance of Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan coming
through the front hall, with the vague, prowling air
of a guest who has found nothing to do with his
morning. He was wearing a new suit of tussore silk
and wasting much neatness upon solitude. The wave
in his hair was in perfect condition.
He brightened at the sight of Bombaccio. "Dow
a tutto?" he asked. He liked to address every man in
his own language, as a good European should, and
this was his way of saying c< Where's everybody? "
Bombaccio replied with the most carefully perfect
English intonation, <c Colonei Bullace, Saire, is at the
Bombaccio expressed extreme dispersal by an ex-
pansive gesture and disowned special knowledge by
a deprecatory smile. "Others a;e at the tennis/ 1 he
<c Lady Catherine?" asked Mr. Plantagenet-
, trying to be quite casual in his tone.
THE HALL OF CASA TERRAGENA
a She loves the garden! " said Bombaccio and began
a respectful retreat.
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan hovered vaguely for a
moment and then turned his face towards the front
entrance. Abruptly the retreat of Bombaccio was
accelerated and Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan looking
round for a cause, became aware of Miss Clarges,
clothed now with unusual decorum, at the bend of
"How about that car, Bombaccio?" cried Miss
Bombaccio, not hearing with all his might, disap-
peared, and the door that led to the domestic mys-
teries clicked behind him. "Damn!" said Miss
Clarges. "Hullo, Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan!"
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan moved to show that he
was hullo all right.
"Pve got a half-sister dangerously ill in Mo-
naco, and I want a car. I'm all packed up and ready
to go. Leastways I shall be in ten minutes."
"Can I be of any assistance?" said Mr. Plantage-
"Naturally," said Miss Puppy. "I want some sort
of car got and some of the minions to carry my bags
up to the gates. Every one seems to be out of the
"Anything I can do?* said Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan, looking entirely ornamental.
"If you'd just warm Bombaccio's ear a bit," said
Miss Clarges. "What's wanted is movement. Get-
ting a move on."
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan felt the reproach in her
tone. "I will stir things up. I do hope your half-
But Puppy had vanished upstairs again.
Mr, Plantagenet-Buchan reflected. He would go
to the bell and ring and when somebody came he
would say in a gentle masterful way: "La Signorina
Clarges e neruosa da la stia automobiglia. Prega da
But he would have much preferred to have gone
on straight into the garden to look for Lady Cather-
ine. He felt they went better together,
He found some difficulty in putting matters right
with the minion who responded to his ring. The
fellow did not seem to understand his own language
and evidently missed the purport of Mr. Plantage-
net-Buchan's communication altogether* He seemed
to think Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan was complaining
of the manner in which Mrs. Rylands' English
chauffeur discharged his duties and expressed him-
self, with some vivid and entertaining pantomime,
as being in the completest agreement- He repeated
the expression a molto periculoso" several times with
empressement. Now the Italian driver was a model
of discretion* Mr* Plantagenet-Buchan was still
trying, without too complete an admission of a lin-
guistic breakdown, to mould the conversation nearer
to Miss Clarges 1 hearths desire, when Lady Catherine
appeared in the low oblong blaze of sunshine beyond
the dark pillars of the portico* He dismissed the
minion with a gesture and walked forward to meet
The hall behind him was left for a moment in
silence and shadow, and then its ceiling and central
parts resonated to the rich voice of Miss Clarges*
"What the hell?" the voice of Miss Clarges inquired,
passionately but incompletely, and her door slammed.
THE HALL OF CASA TERRAGENA
She must have been listening on the landing. A few
moments later, the muffled wheeze of a distant elec-
tric bell was audible from the servants 5 quarters, a
bell that kept on ringing persistently. Miss Clarges
Before Lady Catherine became aware of Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan in the dim coolness of the en-
trance, her face betrayed a certain perturbation and
she was hurrying. At the sight of him, she slack-
ened her gait and became a sauntering queen, ruddy
in the halo of the green umbrella.
"So hot," she said, chin up and smiling. "Too
hot! Pm coming in to write letters. Are you for
Monte Carlo this afternoon?"
"In this blaze?" he doubted and shrugged his
She hovered over him for a moment, not quite sure
what to do with him.
"Lucky man!" she said. "You've got nothing to
do but read the English papers and keep cooL"
She made her way round him to the staircase, smil-
ing him down.
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan was left in the silent hall.
He went to the table on the terrace side where the
freshly-opened newspapers were displayed. He
threw them about almost petulantly. He felt he had
never seen less attractive newspapers. Even the
head-lines of the Daily Express seemed dull. He
sat down at last to the Times, to learn who had died
and who had gone abroad.
Then came an interruption of Geoffrey, very hot,
moist and open-necked, in search of Bombaccio and
drinks and ice for the tennis court. At his appear-
ance on the terrace Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan shrank
deeper into his arm-chair beside the pillar.
"Hullo!" said Geoffrey. "Papers come?"
Mr* Plantagenet-Buchan made a gesture of his
newspaper to express anything Geoffrey liked except
an inclination to talk, and Geoffrey passed on. He
came back presently^ followed by Bombaccio with
a jingling tray, and passed across the terrace and down
the marble steps towards the tennis court. Then
after a large interval of silence, came footsteps on
the staircase. He turned hopefully and saw Miss
Clarges in travelling dress. He stood up in spite of
a faint disappointment. At any rate she was going.
"Pm off," she said. "No chance of saying ta-ta
all round. You'll have to do it for me. ??
"I hope it's all right about the automobile."
"God knows," she said. "I'm going up the gar-
den after my bags to see. Have to fuss round up
there if it isn't. Extraordinary they don't bring a
motor road right down to the house. Sacrificing
comfort to gardening, I call it,"
She smiled conventionally and turned towards the
entrance. Then she stopped short and became rigid.
She had seen something outside there that as yet Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan could not see. "Glory!" she
She had forgotten Mr. Plantagenefr-Buchaa for an
instant. Then she turned to him and saw his inquir-
ing face. "I've left something in my room," she
explained, and turned tail and fled upstairs. The
next moment the feet of two people became visible
and then the all of them in the sunlit space uphill
beyond the portico. Mrs. Rylands was approaching,
and she walked like a woman in a trance and beside
THE HALL OF CASA TERRAGENA
her in silence, looking very large and awkward and
uncomfortable, was Mr. Sempack. Before the en-
trance, they parted without a word; Mr. Sempack
stood irresolute and Mrs. Rylands came on in.
She did not seem to see Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan
standing still beside the newspaper table.
She walked to the staircase and then, after a mo-
mentary pause, made her way up it, helping herself
with a hand upon the bannister.
For some seconds Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan re-
mained lost in thought, and then, still thinking, he
seated himself upon the newspaper table. Presently
Miss Clarges appeared descending the staircase with
an unwonted softness. She looked as though she
might say almost anything to Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan, but what she did say simply and almost con-
fidentially was, "So long." Then she went out into
the sun-glare and vanished up the hill towards the
gates upon the road.
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan shook his head slowly
from side to side, disapprovingly, took counsel with
his diamond ring, struggled off the table, and made
his way, still thinking deeply, to his own room in
He paced his floor obliquely. It had become plain
to him what had happened.
He was glad to have a little time to himself to
consider the situation before facing the world.
What exactly ought a fine-minded, thoroughly Euro-
peanised American gentleman to do? Not simply
that. He was really fond of his hostess. Fond
enough to put his pose into a secondary place. What
could he do for her?
The turret room had four windows that looked
east and west and north and south and as Mr. Plan-
tagenet-Buchan paced up and down from corner to
corner, he would ever and again lift his downcast
eyes, first to this pretty sunlit picture and then to
that. And presently he became aware of something
white, minute in perspective, something moving, far
off, among the red sun-scorched rocks of the head-
land to the west that came out like a scenery wing to
frame the distant view of Mentone. He took a
pocket monocular that lay upon his toilet table out of
its case, focussed it and scrutinised this distant object,
It was a man in flannels scrambling along a little pre-
cipitous path that led round the cape. He moved
with every symptom of haste and irritation. He
slipped and recovered himself, and stood still for a
moment in profile looking up at the shiny rocks, with
an expression of reproachful inquiry. Unmistakably
it was Philip Rylands.
He was making off. To nowhere m particular.
IT was evening and Mrs, Rylands lay in bed in
her unlit room. The windows were wide open
but the blue serenities without were seen through,
a silken haze of mosquito curtain. And Mrs. Ry-
lands was thinking.
Before lunch she had summoned Lady Catherine
to her bedside and thrust most of her duties as a
hostess upon her. "I'm ill," she said. "I've had a
shock, never mind what, dearest, don't say a word
about it, but it's made me ill. I want to be alone, and
there's all this party!"
All Lady Catherine's better self came uppermost.
She kissed her friend. "I'll see they get their
lunch/ 7 she said} "I and Bombaccio. It's your privi-
lege to be ill now, just as you please and whenever
you please. And afterwards shall I pack some of
"They do very little harm/' said Mrs. Rylands.
"I shall get on all right in a bit. Get the bridge
and tennis Stupids out of the house if you can if
they have somewhere to go. But don't chase them
out. They amuse each other. . . Don't make
them uncomfortable. ... I like to have Mr. Sem-
pack about. I like him. When they have gone I
will come down again."
"And Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan?"
"He doesn't matter. Just take hold of things,
Kitty. I can't arrange."
Lady Catherine took hold of things. "Don't you
bother, Cynthia. Bombaccio and I could run four
"Don't want to see any one. Just want to think,"
"I quite understand."
A last murmur from the bed. "Don't want to be
told or asked about anything just now."
A kiss in response and Lady Catherine had gone.
The head on the pillow snuggled under the sheet
with an affectation of profound fatigue until Lady
Catherine was surely out of the room, and then it
was raised and looked round cautiously. Slowly,
wearily, Mrs. Rylands sat up again and became still,
staring in front of her. The protective mask of the
rather pathetic dear little thing had vanished. A
very grave, very sad human being was revealed.
For a long time her mind remained stagnant.
And when at last it did revive it did not so much
move forward from thought to thought as sit down
and contemplate her world unveiled.
She had been living in a dream^ she realised^ and
only such a shock as this could have awakened her.
She had been living in a dream wilfully. In spite
of a thousand hints and intimations^ she had clung
to her beautiful illusions about Philip and herself
and the quality of life. Now that she had not so
much let go of her dream as had it torn from her
hand, it began forthwith to seem incredible and re-
mote. It was plain to her that for weeks and months
she had understood Philip ? s real quality and re-
fused to understand. She was already amazed to
remember how steadfastly she had refused to under-
When at last, late in the afternoon, a letter came
from Philip, a note rather than a letter, written in
pencil, it did but confirm the hard outlines of her
"My darling Cynthia wrote Philip. "What can
I say to you^ except ask yo^ to forgive me? I sup-
pose you think Pm an utter beast and I suppose I am
an utter b&&$t* Yet th&s@ things take on& in a way
you c&n*t understand nd on$ finds ou$ w/i&t seems
just a lark isn*t. I do hope anyhow that
you say or do to m& you won*t b$ too hard on old
Puffy. IPs my fault first and foremost all ih&
time. It is d@ad against all Pup*py*$ code to go lack
on the hostess with whom sha is slaying in that
fashion. Hut on Mng led to another* 1 o*oer-$er~
smd^d her and really we had not planned or &r~
ranged what happened. On my honour. It just
upon us. It may two* been brewing m tto wr
but I swear I didn't plan it. We have always been
pretty good friends, Puppy and me I mean, and I
suppose we ought not to have done anything so risky
as a swim together without any one else. Her bath-
ing dress tore on a nail. A pure accident. Things
looked worse than they actually were. At the time it
seemed just fun. Anyhow she has insisted on dear-
ing out and she's gone. And thafs that. Pd like
to come and see you and have a talk when you feel
up to it. I could kick myself to death that this
should have happened to you y now above all. I feel
the dirtiest of rotters. Nothing of the sort if I can
help it shall ever happen again. That I swear. For-
give me and try to forget it all } for both our sakes.
Your sorry Philip"
She read that over in a whisper. "Your sorry
She lay for a long time quite motionless with his
note on the counterpane before hen It was exactly
like him. How could she ever have imagined that
he was anything else but precisely what that note
And yet he was so good-looking and with some-
thing fine delusively fine was it? about his face
and bearing. So different from wary, unreal
Later on another letter was brought to her, a let-
ter in a different hand,, a large clear and firm script
without a trace of the puerility of Philip's still un-
formed writing, and this also she read and re-read.
Now in the twilight she went on with the train of
thought this second letter had set going.
"Dear Mrs. Rylands," it began ; "Forgive this
rigmarole please that I am obliged to write to you.
A sort of accident made you tell me something of
your trouble and I feel perhaps you will not resent it
if I write to you about it Anyhow I must write about
it even if you do not read it, because I can think of
She thought of his sprawling person dispersed
over a writing-table, his face transfigured intently,
and then came a memory of him like Pan half
changed into an old olive tree or like some weather-
worn Terminus, being kissed by Lady Catherine.
For plainly she had been kissing him. Mrs. Rylands
recalled that incident now without shock or repul-
sion. He was so different from her idea of a man
who could love. Catherine might have been kissing
an old leather-bound bible. . . .
"I want to write, if I may, as a close friend. I
like and admire your husband very greatly and I
like and admire you very greatly. 1 am, so far as
you go, an old experienced man who has observed
far more than he has experienced, and 1 think if I
could make you see what has happened as I see it,
it might cease to appear so conclusive and devastating
an incident as perhaps it does now. It is significant
enough, I admit, but indeed it is no sort of catas-
a l have liked him ever since he came into the room
at Roquebrune the first time I saw him. He has
exceptional vitality, energy, intelligence. He is ex-
traordinarily young for his years. For all practical
purposes he is still merely adolescent. Fie may still
become a man of great distinction. Considering his
position and opportunities he may yet play a quite
considerable part in the world's affairs."
"That is what I had dreamt/' she said, and her
eyes went back to that pencil scrawl.
"What has happened does nothing to change that.
There are points material to this issue which I do
not think you apprehend. 1 do not see how they
can have entered into your consciousness. I will try
to put them to you if you will be patient with me.
Let me repeat, I think enormous things of your
Philip. I don't think that you made a mistake when
you loved him and gave your life to him. And for
you you might be my daughter I have that feel-
ing, that only people who have been schooled to dis-
interested affection can have. I have watched you
both. I care for you both deeply. I care doubly.
I care for you also on account of him. I care for him
also on account of you. Two fine lives are yours;
two hopeful lives."
"And then this I" she whispered, and for some
moments read no more.
"I want you to consider your differences. I don't
think you have ever thought about your differences.
Everything has disposed you to ignore them. You
are a finer thing than Philip but you are slighter.
You are completer but slighter. He is still un-
formed but larger and more powerful. He has the
makings of a far bigger and stronger and more effec-
tive person than you can ever be. You must grant
me that. I think you will grant me that. We human
things j what are we? Channels through which phys-
ical energy flows into decision and act and creative
achievement. There is a pitiless pressure to do.
Living is doing. Life is an engine, a trap, to catch
blind force and turn it into more life and build it
up into greater and more powerful forms. That is
how I see life. That is how you are disposed to see
life* We are all under that pressure in varying de-
grees. The chief business of every one of us, every
one who has a consciousness of such things, is to
master and direct and utilise his pressure. Most of
us spend the better part of our lives trying to solve
the problem of how that is to be done before all
pressure of vitality is exhausted. And your Philip
is under pressures, blind pressures, ten, twenty times
as powerful as all the driving force in you. I hope
this does not offend you?"
"There is a sort of truth in that," said Mrs,
"And now let me assure you he loves you. It is
you he loves, have no doubt of it. And he loves
you for endless things of course, but among them,
chief among them, because of this, that you have
self-control, you seemed to him, as you are, serene,
wise, balanced, delicately poised?*
"Not now/ 3 said Mrs. Rylands.
"He thinks, no! he realises, that you have dtrec-
tion> which is just what he lacks* That brought him
to you perhaps first. That does and can continue to
hold him to you. But that does not prevent old Na-
ture, who has made us all out of the dust and the
hot damp and the slime, pressing upon him and
pressing him- He is living here in this warmth,
in this abundance, far off from the business life and
political life that might engage himj he came here-
that is the irony of it to be with you, to wait upon
you here in the loveliest, most perfect setting* You
know that was his intention. You know he has
treated you sweetly and delicately. Until, as you
think, you found him out."
She nodded assent and turned the page quickly.
"But he wasn't deceiving you. You haven't found
him out so much as he has found himself out. He
meant all that devotion. If only some Angel above
could have turned off the tap of his energy to a mere
trickle, then this would really have been the paradise
you thought it was, until to-day. But all he could
do here, to be the perfect lover of your dreams, he
could have done with one twentieth part of the en-
ergy that drives through his nerves and blood. You
knew he was restless?"
"I thought it was this Coal Strike," said Mrs,
"Any voice that called to him, he had activity
released to hear. And dear old Nature, horrible old
Nature, has only one channel for the release of pent-
up energy. 3 '
"Horrible old Nature, 55 Mrs. Rylands agreed and
seemed to recall some impression. Nature! So
gross and yet with a queer power in her grossness, so
revolting in an ugliness that sometimes became sud-
denly and disconcertingly holy and terribly beauti-
ful! But what was Mr. Sempack saying?
"With you A man may show his love by a
delicate restraint. Must indeed be very delicate and
restrained. And here he was ia this fermenting
blaze with nothing else to do nothing. He didn't
want to make love to any other woman. He loves
nobody but you. If he had wanted to make love
consider! Lady Catherine here is being driven
towards trouble also by our tyrannous old Grand-
mother. There is no comparison in the loveliness
of these two women. But Lady Catherine is an
equal, a personality. He wouldn't look at her,
wouldn't dream of her. Because that would be a
real infringement of you. That would be a real
division of love. But on the other hand there was
this Miss Clarges, who disavows all the accessories
of sex and is simply sexual. She is good company
in the open air. She swims well and one can swim
with her. Things change their emotional quality
away from the house. Wet skin and sunburnt skin,
movement and sunlight and a smiling face. Comes
a flare-up, a desire, and a consoling and refreshing
physical release. Nervous release. It can seem
such a simple thing. My dear Mrs. Rylands, you
may choose to think of it as horrible, you may be
compelled to think of it as horrible, but indeed, I can
assure you, at times it can be as healthy a thing
physically as breathing mountain air. That is out-
side your quality, your experience, but not outside
your understanding. If you care to understand j if
you have the generosity to understand* But of
course you have the generosity to understand. There
is a case for them both* What concerns me most is
the case for him."
She put down the letter again. She had come to
the end of a sheet
"But I loved him," she said, "This is asking too
She lay still a long time. "It is asking too much,"
She glanced again at what she had read, "Nerv-
ous release," she re-tasted and it tasted disgust-
What was wrong with Mr. Sempack or what was
wrong with her?
What were these different tunes that were being
played simultaneously upon their two temperaments
by the same world?
"It isn't right," she thought. "But Pm not clever
enough, my head is not clear enough, to see where
it is wrong. . . . Pm wrong too. I see I'm wrong.
. . . Perhaps he's righter than I am. . . .
"My poor little wits!"
It seemed to her that Sempack put things with a
sort of reasonableness, but in a light that was strange,
like the light in the tanks of Monaco Aquarium. It
was as if the sun had suddenly gone green. Every-
thing had very much the same shape but nothing
had its proper colour. Everything had become de&p.
This man's mind was as large and unusual as his
body. She took up the next sheet and the light of
Mr. Sempack's mind seemed greener and colder and
the things it illuminated deeper than ever.
"If he is to stay here centring his life wholly upon
you, what is to be done with the nineteen-twentieths
of his vitality that will be left over? It is not
merely physical vitality we are dealing with. That
might be devoted to swimming, climbing, tennis.
But you cannot separate bodily and imaginative en-
ergy so completely; the one drags at the other.
There is no such thing as purely physical vitality.
The accumulation of energy amidst this warmth and
beauty and leisure affects the imagination, demands
not simply an effort but a thrill."
There was a blank space of half a sheet.
"I am trying to expose the real Philip to you, this
soul struggling with the mysteries of a body as a man
struggles with an unbroken horse. And some one
else also, I want to expose to you, whom perhaps you
do not yet completely know, the real Cynthia Ry-
lands. You see-, I am not going to ask you to forgive
him. That is the danger ahead for both of you.
He will ask that, but I know better than he does In
this matter, about him and about you. I want you
to realise that there is nothing to forgive. 315
She stopped to think that over and then read on.
"Philip is your job," the resolute writing con-
tinued. "I see no other job in the world for you to
compare with it or to replace it. Children? People
overrate what a modern mother has to do for her
children, as they underrate what she can do for her
man. Women are for men and children are a by-
product. You have given your life to Philip for
better or worse, and nothing can ever take it alto-
gether back. Try to take it back and you will leave
a previous part of you to die.
"Is this true of all husbands and all wives? you
may ask. No. Nothing is true of all husbands and
all wives, Half the mea in the world are nincom-
poops, and an unknown proportion of women idiots*
I do not see that they and their horrid, sloppy rela-
tionships come into this discussion. Let them slop
and squabble in their own way. I am thinking of
two people of very fine quality and unequal energy.
I am thinking of you and Philip. You can supply
a protection, a charity, a help, a stability to that
young man, without which he will just make the sort
of mess of life natural to his type. And he is worth
what you can give him. He has quality* He is
worth saving from his temperamental fate* But
your first sacrifice has to be, the sacrifice of your in-
stinctive sexual resentments. Your first effort has
to be an enormous patience and charity. Your first
feat has to be your realisation that much may be clean
or cleansable in him, that would be, well a little
disgusting to you. I must make myself quite plain.
It is not a question of your forgiving him this affair
with Miss Clarges, after due repentance on his part,
and going on again on your old lines with the under-
standing that nothing of the sort is ever going to
happen again. What is before you is something
much harder than that. It is a matter of bracing
yourself up to the new idea that this sort of thing is
likely to happen again in your lives, and that it may
happen repeatedly, and however often it may hap-
pen, it has never to make the slightest diminution of
your support of him or of his respect and confidence
in you. While you stand over his life, you unbroken
and resolute, no affair of this sort will ever wreck it.
He will come back to you. You will be his fast-
ness, his safe place. Every time more and more.
But talk and think of offending and forgiving, put
yourself on a level with Miss Puppy Clarges, fight
her for him, peck the other hen, and shut yourself
against him in any way, in any way, and down he
goes and down you go, and your two " lives will
dribble through a tangle of commonplace sexual
quarrels and estrangements to some sort of mud-
dling divorce or separation or compromise. . . .
"I don't know why I write all this to you. Your
brain is as fine as mine and you must know all that
I am writing. As you read it it will come to your
mind not as a new conviction but as the illumination
of something that has always been there,
"You are Philip Rylands 5 wife. In the fullest
sense and to the last possible shade of meaning, you
are his wifej you are a wife by nature, and the role
of a wife is not to compete and be jealous, but to
understand and serve and by understanding and
serving rule. Wives are rare things in life, but you
are surely one. You cannot possibly give yourself
the airs of the ordinary married mistress. You have
wedded yourself to your Philip beyond jealousy
except for his sake. I can see you in no other part."
Again came a sort of break in the writing. "That
is really all that I have to say to you. Perhaps I
may add rest assured that unless I am no judge of
a man, when at last he comes to his full stature
through your protection and your help and stimula-
tion Rylands will be worth while. Through him
you may do great things in the world and in no other
way will you personally ever do great things. Be-
cause you are reflective j because your initiatives are
too delicate for the weight and strains of life."
Mr. Sempack had not signed this letter. There it
After re-reading this communication Mrs. Rylands
turned out her bedside lamp and lay quite motion-
less in the deepening twilight, and thought. Far
away Mentone returned out of the evening blue that
had drowned it and became a little necklace of minute
lights flung upon the deep azure darkness,
"He will be worth while,** Was that written to
Worth while? Was that true? Would Phil
really become that strong competent man laying a
determining hand on human affairs she had once
dreamt of, or were not both she and Mr. Sempack a
little carried away by his good looks, by his occasional
STOIC AND EPICUREAN
high gravity and by something generous and naive
in his quality? . . . And also . . . Something dear
about him? . , . Something very dear?
Mrs. Rylands found that she was weeping.
After^ail, she asked with an abrupt mental col-
lapse, did it matter in the least if he was worth
"Sometimes such a dear," she whispered.
She had thought and perhaps feared that a repul-
sion, a physical dislike might have crept between her-
self and Philip, but suddenly she realised that he
was just as magnetic for her as he had ever been.
She found herself longing for him to come to her,
longing, irrationally, monstrously.
She would not send for him. She could not send
for him. That would be too much. But she longed
for him to come to her.
DOWNSTAIRS an attenuated house party sat
at dinner. The Mathisons and Geoffrey Ry-
lands had departed for Monte Carlo, moved
and encouraged to do so by their host. Mr. Haul-
bowline had gone with them, making up his mind at
the last moment when he realised that there might
be no bridge in the evening. Unprotected by a
bridge group he might have to be visible, audible
and distinctive. And the Bullaces were away, dining
with a dear old friend of the wife's at Diano Marino,
the widow of an army chaplain who had been killed
and partially eaten, no doubt at Bolshevik instiga-
tion, by an ill-disposed panther in Bengal. To-mor-
row the Bullaces were going back to England. The
coal situation in Britain, was becoming more threat-
ening every day and the chance of social disturbance
greater. The Colonel felt that his place was in the
field of danger there, and that at any moment his
peculiar gifts might be in request for the taming of
Miss Fenimore and Lady Grieswold were both
present. In spite of some very suggestive talk from
Lady Catherine their movements were uncertain.
Lady Catherine had perhaps exaggerated the gravity
of Mrs. Rylands* health and her need for peace 5
and Miss Fenimore had felt not that she ought to
go but that she ought to stay "in case some one was
wanted." Lady Grieswold held on firmly without
any explanation, but Lady Catherine had reason for
hoping that when it was manifest a bridge famine
was inevitable her grip would relax. Though of
course there was the possibility of a break away into
patience. However that was to be seen.
The Tamars were due at Geneva in three days'
time and so Lady Catherine did nothing to dislodge
them* They were very harmless j they had spent the
day together in a long walk up the hills, had taken
their lunch and she had done a water-colour sketch
of the little chapel in the upper valley j they had
returned just in time for dinner and heard of Mrs.
Rylands' collapse only in the drawing-room. They
were quietly happy and tired and their sympathy was
pleasantly free from any note of distress*
The table talk was for a time disconnected and
desultory, with long pauses, and then it broke into a
loose debate between Stoicism and Epicureanism, in
which Mr, Sempack and Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan
said nearly everything. Mr, Sempack started with a
STOIC AND EPICUREAN
panegyric of the Stoic; it seemed to be there in his
mind and it was almost as if he thought aloud. He
addressed what he had to say away from Lady Cath-
erine., markedly. His discourse seemed by its very
nature to turn its back on her. Mr. Piantagenet-
Buchan talked rather at Lady Catherine and Miss
Fenimore, appealing to them for support by the di-
rection of his head and smiles and gestures. The
Tamars were mildly interested and ever and again
at some of the flatter passages they smiled mysteri-
ously at one another, as though, if they cared, they
could put quite a different complexion on things.
Philip was unaffectedly lost in thought. He did not
pretend even to listen.
Lady Grieswold said little but became visibly un-
easy as the discussion soared and refused to descend*
She was wondering if the Tamars would like to play
bridge and still more how she might give this very
difficult conversation a turn that would enable her to
suggest this. Perhaps they did not know how to
play yet and might like to be shown of course for
quite nominal stakes. It was wonderful the things
these intellectual people did not know. She never
contrived to get her suggestion out for all her alert-
ness and she went up to a bridgeless drawing-room
and sat apart and felt she was a widow more acutely
than she had done for many years, and retired quite
early to bed showing, Lady Catherine noted with sat-
isfaction, no disposition whatever for the consolations
of the patience spread.
Mr. Sempack began in a pause, almost or alto-
gether out of nothing. If anything could be re-
garded as releasing the topic its connexion was so re-
mote that it vanished from the mind as soon as it
had served its purpose. "It is remarkable," he be-
gan> "how silently and steadily Stoicism returns to
the world. 55
"Stoicism!" said Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan and
raised his fine eyebrows.
"Consolation without rewards or punishments, a
pure worship of right and austerity. It came too soon
into the world j it had to give place to Mithraism and
Isis worship and the Christianities for two thousand
years. Now it returns to a world more prepared
for it. 55
"But does it return?" said Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan with a disarming smile.
Mr. Sernpack pursued his own train of thought,
"The simple consolations needed by life in an under-
civilised world, the craving for exemplary punish-
ments, rewards and compensations j those Christianity
could give. And a substitutional love to make up for
human unkindnesses and failures of loyalty, . . .
Not to be despised. By no means to be despised.
. . . But in the cold light of to-day these consola-
tions fade* In the cold clear light of our increasing
knowledge. We cannot keep them even if we would,
We strain to believe and we cannot do it. We arc
left terribly to the human affections in all their in-
completeness and behind them what remains for
us? Endurance. The strength of our own souls."
His voice sank so beautifully that for a moment
or so Lady Catherine knew what it was to be wholly
in love. What a great rock he was! What tranquil
power there was in him! He divested himself of all
beliefs and was not in the least afraid- He was
withdrawing to his fastness from her. So far as he
was able. He would not be able to do it, but it was
STOIC AND EPICUREAN
magnificent how evidently he thought he could.
Almost unconsciously she began to radiate herself at
him and continued to do so for the rest of the evening
whenever opportunity offered.
"But need it be Stoicism?" said Mr. Plantagenet-
"For my part I do not feel Christianity is dead/'
young Lord Tamar interpolated before Mr. Plan-
tagenet-Buchan could reply. "Not in the least dead.
It changes form but it lives."
Lady Tamar nodded in confirmation. "It changes
form," she admitted.
Lady Grieswold made confirmatory noises, rather
like the noises a very old judge might make in con-
firming a decision, and she took some more stuffed
aubergine as if that act was in some way sacramental.
Mr. Sempack did not attend at once to these three
confessions. He stared before him at the marble
wall over Miss Fenimore's head. He had an air
of explaining something carefully to himself.
"Christianity has prevailed," he assured himself,
"but indeed Christianity passes. Passes! it has
gone! It has littered the beaches of life with
churches, cathedrals, shrines and crucifixes, preju-
dices and intolerances, like the sea urchins and star-
fish and empty shells and lumps of stinging jelly
upon the sands here after a tide. A tidal wave out of
Egypt. And it has left a multitude of little wrig-
gling theologians and confessors and apologists hop-
ping and burrowing in the warm nutritious sand.
But in the hearts of living men, what remains of it
now? Doubtful scraps of Arianism. Phrases. Sen-
He turned his large eye on Lady Tamar and took
up her neglected remark. "If Christianity changes
form, it becomes something else. 3 '
Lord Tamar gave a little cough and spoke apolo-
getically. "Love," said Lord Tamar, "remains.
The spirit. Christianity is love. It is distinctively
the religion o love. All the rest is excrescence.
There was no such religion before. 55
Lady Tamar wanted to say "God is Love," but her
courage failed and so she blushed instead. Evidently
both the Tamars felt their own remarks acutely*
"Christianity can only be a form of love/ 5 said
Mr. Sempack. a l doubt if it is that. And I doubt
still more if any one can argue that love is the high-
est thing in life. Is it? ... Is it? . . ." Lady
Catherine watched him. Far over her head to things
beyond, Mr. Sempack said, "No." He developed
his disavowals. "There are nobler things for the
soul the conquest of the limited self , for example,
at heights and in visions and apprehensions altogether
above passion. There are, I am convinced, great
mountains above the little village of the affections,
high and lonely places. There lies the Stoic domain.
There we can camp and harbour. Stoicism, which
was too great for the world when first it dawned
upon men's thoughts, comes back into life. Changed
very little in essentials, but enlarged, because our
vision of time and space has enlarged. It has re-
turned so inevitably that it has returned impercep-
tibly. We have all become Stoics nowadays
without knowing it. We have not been persuaded
and convinced and convertedj we just find ourselves
there. We fall back by a sort of general necessity
upon the dignity of renunciation and upon our sub~
STOIC AND EPICUREAN
ordination to a greater life. Perhaps we do not
want to do it but we have to do it. What else can
we do unless we play tricks with our intelligence and
degrade ourselves to 'acts of faith'? What gymnas-
tics this century has seen since its beginning! We
abandon the Christian exaggeration of the ego and
its preposterous claims for an everlasting distinctive-
ness perforce. We give up craving for individual
recognition because we must. Loneliness. Perhaps.
In a sense we are all increasingly alone. But then,
since nowadays we are all increasingly something
more and something less than ourselves, that loneli-
ness is no longer overwhelming,"
This was in effect soliloquy. It may have been
soundly reasoned but it had been difficult to follow.
The desolate figure of little Mrs. Rylands was so
vivid in his mind that he was still able to remain
unresponsive to the glow he had evoked in Lady
Catherine. He was talking neither to his hearers nor
himself, but in imagination to that little lady up-
stairs against the disturbance of the lovely lady at
the end of the table. He was making Cynthia his
talisman against Catherine. By behaving like a wise
man for Mrs. Rylands he might yet be able to arrest
the deep warm currents about him and within him
that were threatening to make a fool of him for Lady
Catherine. The problem of that fine soul, so clear in
its apprehensions and so fatally gentle in its will,
flung so suddenly into a realisation of its immense
unaided confrontation of the universe, was good
enough to grip him. After he had written and sent
her that letter he wanted to take it all back and begin
all over again. Or to begin a second one and a
longer. But the gong had arrested the latter impulse
at the source and saved some of the material for
this present allocution.
The rest of the dinner party were variously af-
fected by his declarations. "But is one ever really
alone?" asked Lord Tamar, carrying on the talk,
and began to reflect upon what he was saying as he
said it. What, asked a chilling voice within, what
would stand by him in an ultimate isolation? If for
example but that was too horrible to think even.
He glanced across the table at his wife and saw that
she was longing to look at him in reply and could
not do so. What Stoicism, he asked himself, could
help if that were stripped from him? But then, his
warmer self hastened to interpolate, it could not be
stripped from him because love makes things immor-
tal! Yet what did that mean?
There came a silence. Miss Fenimore felt she had
rarely enjoyed so deep and subtle a conversation.
She did not understand a bit of it, but it swept her
mind onward intoxicatingly. Her glasses flashed
round the table for the next speaker.
This was Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan. He fingered
the stem of his glass. "Now that? he said, speaking
slowly and thoughtfully, "is a point of view.'*
Every one else was relieved to find there was some
one competent to take up Mr. Sempack. What Mr.
Sempack had been talking about was a point of view.
That was really very helpful. Attention, embodied
particularly in Miss Fenimore, focussed itself con-
sciously on Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan.
"That," Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan improved, "is a
method of apprehension. I admit the decay of
Christian certitude. It has gone. And I admit the
dignity and greatness of the Stoic vision. Yes. But
STOIC AND EPICUREAN
it is, after all, only one of several possible visions."
He paused and extended a fine index finger at Mr.
Sempack. "Equally well you may look through the
glass of another philosophy and see the world as a
glad spectacle, as a winepress of sensation and happi-
ness and sympathetic feeling and beautiful experi-
ences. . . . ??
He was launched.
He lifted a glance to Lady Catherine. "Loneli-
ness Is a fact, 3 * he said 5 a yes. But loveliness also is
a fact. Which fact do you care to make the most
important, which shall be the focus of attention?
You are free to choose, it seems to me, to go out of
yourself if you will, rather than retreat to the inner-
most. Why take the loneliness of the soul rather
than the loveliness of circumambient things ?"
"Loneliness and Loveliness!" It was a long way
from such silly talk to sound and sensible bridge,
thought poor Lady Grieswold. People who had
the sense to play bridge didn't bother about such
things. Awful stuff! And flouting Christianity too !
Florence or Mehtone? It would have to come to
that. The nice people had gone.
"Against your Neo-Stoic," said Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan, still using his finger a little, "I set the Neo-*
Epicurean. I set such an attitude to the universe that
a man may lament that he knows no God to thank for
the infinitude of delicious things and marvellous pos-
sibilities wrapped up in the fabric of life."
And so forth. . . .
Thus was issue joined downstairs and a long rather
rambling and cloudy discussion between Stoicism and
Epicureanism began. Miss Fenimore followed it
from first to last with an enraptured incomprehen-
sion, while Philip brooded on his secret preoccupa-
tions and Mrs. Rylands lay upstairs on her great
bed, preparing the things she had to say when at last
Philip should come to her.
It was an entirely inconclusive discussion. Except
that Lady Catherine, converted it would seem on the
spot, presently announced herself a Stoic, to Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan's visible surprise and distress.
Now why should she do that?
"But my dear Lady!" said Mr. Plantagenet-
"Life should be stern? said Lady Catherine tri-
umphantly. . .
After a time Philip, regardless of his formal duties
as a host, got up and very quietly slipped away.
IT seemed ever so late in the night when Philip
came upstairs. He made a scarcely perceptible
noise, but she was alert* "Phil dear ! 5? she cried.
"Are you there? Phil! 55
He came softly out of the shadows, stood aloof for
a moment, black, mysterious and silent against the
blue night, and then was at the bedside. "I hoped
you were asleep, 53 he said.
She clicked on her shaded light and the two re-
garded each other in a sorrowful scrutiny, perplexed
with themselves and life.
"Cynthia," he whispered. "Cynthia, my darlingj
can you forgive? 55
"Perhaps," she panted and paused, ^Perhaps
there is nothing to forgive."
"Nothing that matters.' 5
"She's cleared out."
"It doesn't matter. Don't trouble about her. . . .
You I think of."
"I've been such a beast."
"No. It happened. It had to happen. Some-
thing had to happen. You couldn't help yourself.
You've nothing to do here. You've been a prisoner
here, waiting on me."
"Oh! don't say that. I meant to be so dear to
you my dear. But there's something rotten in me."
"No, no. Rotten! Dear, Phil dear, you're not even
ripe. But I've let you stay here. . . ." She put
out her hand and he sat himself on the bed beside
her. He kissed her. "My dear," he said. "Dear!
"Listen," she said, and kept her hand upon him.
She whispered. Both spoke in whispers. "Go to
England, dear one. Things are happening there.
Trouble and muddle. Men men ought to work.
You you ought to find out. You ought to under-
stand. You so rich and responsible. Things have
to be done. I can stay here. . . ."
"You banish me?"
"No. This is banishment. Here. Here I can't
help you to grow into the man you have to be.
Not now. I've got to be three parts vegetable for
a bit now and then a sort of cow. No fit companion
for a growing man. I don't mind, dear. It's worth
it. It's what I'm for. It had to be. But you you
go home to England now. You can't stand idle-
ness. You can't stand these long empty days."
He released her and sat thinking it out.
After a long pause he said, "I think you are right.
I ought to go."
"WeVe got all the Red Valley property. All that
Yorkshire stretch. The Vale o Edensoke, A third
perhaps of the Rylands millions is in coal. I ought
to know about it. Pve let the older men. Uncle
Robert and the others, do what they pleased. 53
Now that was a man!
"Go for that" she said. "Go for the sake of
He turned his eyes to her. She did her best to
look at him with a grave, quiet, convincing face and
her strength was not enough. Suddenly the calm of
her countenance broke under her distress and she
wept like a struck child.
"Oh, my dear!" he cried in an agony of helpless-
ness y "that I should hurt you now! What have I
done to you? 77 and threw his arms about her and
drew her up close to him, very close to him, and
kissed the salt tears.
"Poor Phil ! " she clung to him weeping, smooth-
ing his hair with one hand. "Dear Phil ! "
END OF BOOK ONE
BOOK THE SECOND
2. THE NEW START
3. LADY CATHERINE HAS NOTHING TO Do
4. THE GREEN LEATHER BOOK
5. BATTLE JOINED
6. AFTER THE WHIRLWIND
7. THE EPICUREAN
8. BELATED RETURN
9. HASTE AND THE LONG VIEW
10. PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
ii. NOTES OF INTERROGATION
12. MRS. RYLANDS REPLIES
13. REMARKABLE OPINIONS OF MRS. McMANUS
14. Row WITH UNCLE ROBERT
15* THE GENERAL STRIKE COLLAPSES
1 6. THEOLOGICAL
17. FASCISTI IN THE GARDEN
1 8. MRS. RYLANDS ACTS
19. THE PRISON LAND
20* GONE AWAY
21. PHILIP'S FOURTH REAL LETTER
22- THE RAPIDS
23. PHILIP COMES HOME
BOOK THE SECOND
FOR a brief interval it seemed probable that the
dispersal of the party would be even more
thorough than Mrs. Rylands and Lady Cath-
erine had contemplated. Mr. Sempack, after what
would appear to have been a troubled night, pro-
claimed his intention of going back to Nice forth-
with to get some books and carry them off with him
His explanations lacked lucidity. He was not a
good enough liar to invent a valid reason for going
to Corsica. Lady Catherine, very subtly, left him
to Mrs. Rylands 5 who summoned him secretly to the
little sitting-room next her bedroom and received
him in a beautiful flowery Chinese silk wrapper, and
told him how she had looked forward to talking to
him when the others had gone. She reduced him
to the avowal that his motive in going was "mere
restlessness," contrived to convert the Corsican
project into a few days' walking from some centre
upon the Route des Alpes, and made him promise to
come back so soon as he had walked himself calm.
Neither she nor he made the slightest ^attempt to
account for his restlessness. She accepted it as a
matter of course. So with a slightly baffled air,
carrying a knapsack and a small valise and leaving his
more serious luggage as it were in pawn, Mr. Sem-
pack took the local train for Nice.
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan was also affected by the
general dislodgment. He discovered or invented a
friend Mrs. Rylands was in doubt which a friend
he had not met for years at that jolly hotel with the
convex landlord at Torre Pellice up above Turin, and
remained oscillating on the point of departure for
some days without actually going, keeping the
friend in reserve.
The only irremovable visitor indeed was dear Miss
Fenimore, who made it apparent, quietly but clearly,
that she had never yet been in at the birth of a baby
and this time nothing whatever would induce her to
abandon her place in the queue. She was resolved
to be useful and devoted and on the spot, and noth-
ing but two or three carbinieri seemed likely to dis-
lodge her. Lady Grieswold after circling vaguely
about the ideas of Mentone or even Florence was
drawn down by the centripetal force of the green
tables to a not too expensive pension at BeausoleiL
The Tamars went off a day earlier than they had
intended, they were taking a night at Cannes en route
to stay with the Jex-Hiltons and talk to a distin-
guished refugee from Fascism whose house had been
burnt, whose favourite dog had been skinned alive,
and who had been twice seriously injured with loaded
canes and sandbags on account of some mild criticism
of the current regime. Lord Tamar had hitherto
been too diplomatic to express even a private opinion
of Mussolini, but he felt that possibly it might give
pause to that energetic person's dictatorial tendencies
to learn that one or two English people of the very
best sort were not in the very least afraid to meet
his victims and make pertinent enquiries about him.
Colonel and Mrs. Bullace had some difficulties
about their wagon-lit and went a day later than they
had proposed^ The Colonel threw a tremendous
flavour of having been recalled over his departure.
The vague suggestion that some sort of social strug-
gle of a definitive sort was brewing in England grew
stronger and stronger as his farewells came nearer.
Philip came down to find him discoursing to his wife
and Miss Fenimore and Lady Grieswold, who was
going with the Bullaces as far as Monte Carlo.
"This coal difficulty is neither the beginning nor
the end of the business," he was saying. "Rest as-
sured. We know. It is just the thin end of the
Moscow wedge. They've been watched. - They've
been watched. Intelligence against intelligence."
^He^ would have preferred not to have had Philip
j oin jiis audience, but he stuck to his discourse. Bom-
baccio brought his master his coffee and Philip sat
back, hands in his trouser pockets, staring deeply at
"You really think," said Miss Fenimore. "You
really think ?"
"We know," said the Colonel. "We know."
"Is this the social revolution again?" asked Philip.
"It would be, if we were not prepared."
"But what are you prepared for?" asked Philip.
"What do you think is going to happen? To need
you at home?"
"The British working man, Sir, has to take smaller
wages and work longer hours and he won't. Ever
since the war and Lloyd George's nonsense, he's been
too uppish. And he has to climb down. He's got to
climb down before he topples things over. That's
the present situation. And behind it the Red Flag.
"Surely this coal business is a question in itself.
We have the Coal Commission Report. The owners
have haggled a bit about things and the men are in-
clined to be stiff, but there's nothing that can't be got
over, so far as I can see. It's a case of give and take.
Baldwin is doing his utmost to bring the parties to-
gether and arrange a settlement and a fresh start.
Won't he get it? I don't see where your social con-
flict is to come in."
"I will explain/' said Colonel Bullace, and cleared
his throat. He turned and rapped the table. "There
will be no coal settlement."
"Neither the miners nor the coal-owners will agree
"Then there will be a lock-out and then we know
what they are up to all right and then there will be
a strike of all the workers yes, of all the workers
in the country, a new sort of strike, Sir, a general
strike, a political strike, an attempt at "^ The
Colonel paused and then gave the words as it were
in italics "Red Revolution!"
Philip's voice betrayed his unfathomable faith In
"We know it. We know it from men like
Thomas, sensible men. Too sensible for the riff-
raff behind 'em. The hotheads, the Moscow crew,
have had this brewing for some time. Don't think
we're not informed. It has been their dream for
years. This coal trouble won't be settled, rest as-
sured, and I for one, don't want to see it settled. No,
Sir. The fight has to come and it may as well come
now while we have men, real red-blooded men like
Churchill and Joynson-Hicks and Birkenhead, to
fight it through.
"Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just
"But Thricer he who gets his blow in f ust"
Colonel Bullace pronounced these words in ring-
ing tones, nodded his head, and gave his host a stern
grimly masticating profile until he caught his wife's
eye. His wife's eye had been seeking capture for
some time, and now, assisted by an almost impercep-
tible pantomime it said, "egg moustache." Colonel
Bullace made the necessary corrections with as little
loss of fierceness as possible.
"You mean," said Philip, "that when Baldwin
calls the conference of owners and men and tells
them to make peace on the lines of the coal commis-
sion, he is, in plain English, humbugging marking
time for something else to happen? Something else
about which he cannot be altogether unaware."
"Mr. Baldwin is a good man," said the Colonel.
"But he does not fully realise what we are up
Mrs, Bullace nodded. "He doesn't know."
"We do," said the Colonel. "The General Strike,
the Social Revolution in England is timed for the
first of May, this first of May. The attack is as cer-
tain as the invasion of Belgium was in August 1914."
A diversion was made by the appearance of Mr fr
Plantagenet-Buchan in the beautiful tussore suit.
He hovered in the doorway. "Don't tell me," he
expostulated, "that you are talking coal^ in the midst
of this delicious heat!"
He sauntered to the open terrace, rubbing the
faultless hands, and returned to confide with just
one greenish glint of the diamond his need of a
plentifully sugared grape-fruit to Bombaccio's satel-
lite. He indicated the exact height of the sugar.
"Zucchero. Allo montano. Come questa."
Philip got up, hesitated towards the terrace and
then went into the hall and upstairs to his wife's
BOTH Philip and Cynthia had a feeling that
they had much to communicate to each other
and neither knew how to set about communi-
cating. She even thought of writing him a long,
carefully weighed letter 5 it was a trick her father
had in moments of crisis, retreat to his study, state-
ments, documentation, distribution; her brain kept
coining statements and formulae, but it seemed use-
less to write a long letter to some one who was so
soon to depart and make letters the only means of
intercourse. Moreover he kept drifting in and out
of her sitting-room and sitting beside her couch, so
that she had no time for any consecutive composi-
tion. He would pat her and caress her gently, sit
about her room, fiddle with things on her dressing-
table or take up and open books and then put them
down again, and he would sometimes sit still and
keep silence for five minutes together. He had a
way of getting up when he had anything to say, and
walking about while he said it, and he seemed never
THE NEW START
to expect her to answer at once to anything he said.
And if they were walking in the garden then on the
contrary he would stop to deliver himself, and
afterwards pick a flower or throw a pebble at a tree.
As soon as Lady Grieswold and the Bullaces and
Tamars were well out of the way, and the weekly
visiting-day when the chars-a-bancs poured their
polyglot freight through the garden was past, she
came down out of her seclusion and walked about the
paths and stairways with him and sat and talked here
and there. They never seemed to thresh anything
out -and yet when at last he too had gone, she began
to realise that they had, in phrases and fragments,
achieved quite considerable exchanges. Three sep-
arate times he had said: "You've never looked so
lovely as you do now," which did not at all help
matters forward but still seemed somehow to make
She detected in herself a disposition to prelude
rather heavily, to say often and too impressively:
<c Philip, dearj there is something I want to say 5?
She hated herself every time she found that this
preluding tendency had got her again, and had
foisted itself upon her in some new, not instantly
Yes, things were said and there were answers and
iacceptances. In the retrospect things fell into place
and the remark of the late afternoon linked itself
to the neglected suggestion of the morning. He
had attended to her observations more than she had
supposed, and expressed himself she realised with a
Among the things she thought had been got over
between herself and Philip was the recognition of
their personal difference. They had to understand
that their minds worked differently. Mr. Sempack
had made that very plain to her, plainer even than
he had intended, and she meant to make it very plain
to Philip. Philip would have to make allowances for
her in the days ahead. It was not only she who had
to make allowances for Philip. They had to see each
other plain. Illusions were all very well for lovers
but not for the love of man and wife.
"I worry more with my mind over things than you
do," she had struggled with it. "Your mind bites
and swallows 5 you hardly know what has happened^
but mine grinds round and round. I'm an intellec-
"You're damned intelligent," said Philip loyally.
"That's not so certain, Phil. I not only think a
thing but Pve got to think I'm thinking it. I've got
to join things on one to the other. I've got to get out
my principles and look at them before I judge any-
thing. Philip, has it ever dawned on you that I'm
a bit of a prig? 5 '
"You!" cried Philip. "My God! "
He was so horrified; she had to laugh. "Dear, I
am," she said. "I don't forget myself in things.
You do. But I'm always there, with my set of princi-
ples complete, in the foreground or the frame if
you like of what I'm thinking about. You can't
get away from it, if you are like that."
"You're no -prig?* said Philip. "What has put
that into your head?"
"And so far as I can see," she said, "it's no good
making up your mind not to be a prig if you are a
prig. That's only going one depth deeper into prig-
THE NEW START
Philip had one of his flashes. "Still that's not so
bad as making up your mind that you won't make up
your mind not to be a prig, you little darling. This
all this is adorable and just like you. You are
growing up in your own fashion, and so perhaps am
L Pve always loved your judgments and your bal-
ance. . . . How little we*ve talked since our mar-
riage! How little we've talked! And I always
dreamt of talking to you. Before we married I used
to think of us sitting and talking just like this."
That was a good phase of their time to recall
And she recalled it, with a number of little things
he said later, little things that came back again and
again to this question of some method, some reasoned
substance, in their relationship that she had broached
in this fashion. At times he would say things that
amounted to the endorsement and acceptance of her
own gently hinted criticisms. It was queer how he
gave them back to her, enlarged, rather strength-
"Of course, 53 said Philip, half a day later} "all this
taking things for granted is Rot sheer Rot. Every
one ought to think things out for himself. Every
one. Coal strike. Everything. How lazy in our
minds I mean people of our sort are! We seem to
take it all out of ourselves keeping fit. * . . Fit for
And: "Empty-minded. I suppose that people
never have been so empty-minded as our sort of peo-
ple are now. Always before, they had their religion.
They had their intentions to live in a certain way
that they thought was right. Not simply just jazz-
ing about. . . ."
It was extraordinary with what completeness he
grasped and accepted her long latent criticisms of
their life in common. "Puppy/* he remarked, "only
put the lid on. I see I must get clear. The damned
thing of it, wasn't that at all. It was the drift. The
day after day. The tennis. Just anything that
He had seized upon her timid and shadowy inti-
mations to make a definite project for their inter-
course while he was away. "Prig or no prig/' they
were to explain their beliefs to each other, clear up
their ideas, "stop the drift. 55 They were to write
as fully and clearly as possible to each other. "God
and all that, 55 he said. It didn 5 t matter.
"Pve never written a letter, a real letter, I mean
about serious things, in my life. I shall try and
write about 5 em now to you. Just as I see them over
there. I shan ? t write love-letters to you except
every now and then. LilP nonsense, just in passin 5 .
I shall write about every blessed thing. Every
"You mustn 5 t laugh at the stuff I shall send you.
It will clear my mind. People of our sort ought
to be made to write things down that we believe.
Just to make sure we aren 5 t f udding. 55
Walking up and down with her in the broad path
beyond the stone of the sweet Lucma, he remarked
at large, loudly and with no sequence: "Prig be
And also he said: "A woman is a man 5 s keeper. A
wife is a man 5 s conscience. If he can 5 t bring his
thoughts to her she's no good at all.
"No real good. 5?
Then a confession. "I always thought of talking
THE NEW START
about things with you. When first I met you. We
did talk rather. For a bit. 3 *
Her fullest memory was of him late at night on
the balcony outside her sitting-room. She was lying
on a long deck-chair and he stood leaning against
the parapet, jerking things at her, going from topic
to topic, lighting, smoking, throwing away cigarettes,
"Cynthia/ 3 he asked abruptly, "what do you think
about Socialism and all that sort of thing? "
So comprehensive a question found her unpre-
pared. One was trained at school, he went on, to
think "that sort of thing" Rot and not think any more
about it. But it wasn't Rot. There was such a thing
as social injustice. Most people didn't get a fair
deal. They didn't get a dog's chance of a fair deal
He stepped to another aspect.
^Have you ever thought of our sort of life as
being mean, Cynthia? "
Latterly she had. But she wanted him to lead the
talking and so she answered: "I've always assumed
;we gave something back."
"Yes. And what do we give back?"
"We ought to give back " She paused.
"More than we do."
"Considering what they get/ 5 he said. "Rather!
"F'r instance/' he began, and paused.
The moon with an imperceptible swiftness was
gliding clear of the black trees and he stood now, a
dim outline against a world of misty silver, taut and
earnest, leaning against her balustrade. "I've been
trying to make out this coal story for myself," he
said. "Rather late in the day seeing how deep in
coal we are. But I've always left things to Uncle
Robert and the partners. I grew up to the idea of
leaving things to Uncle Robert. 57
The face of Uncle Robert, Lord Edensoke, the
head of the Rylands clan, came before her eyes, a
hard handsome face, rather like Philip, rather like
Geoffrey; she could never determine in her own
mind which he was most like. He was the autocrat
of the Rylands world and she fancied a little hostile
to her marriage. It was very easy to understand how
Philip had grown up to the idea of leaving things to
"I don't like the story, 55 Philip was saying.
"You know, Cynthia; it's a greedy history, on our
"I wish old Sempack hadn't trotted off in the way
he did. I'd have liked to have had a lot of this out
with him. That old boy has a kind of grip of things.
I'm getting his books. I suppose it was just his tact
took him off. He noticed something. Of that trou-
ble. Thought we might want a bit of time together.
We did. But I'd have liked to have had his point of
view of a lot of things. We coal-owners f 5 r instance.
"You know, Cynthia, in the coal trouble, we
coal-owners don't seem to have done a single decent
thing. I mean to say a generous thing. I mean we
just stick to our royalties. We get in the way and
ask to be bought off. I think you ought to read a bit
of this Royal Commission Report. It's in the file of
the Manchester Guardian downstairs. I'll mark you
some papers. There's the Commission's report and
the Labour Plan and various schemes and they're all
worth reading. These are things we ought to read.
It's a Tory Commission, this last one. The other
wasn't. The Justice Sankey one. But the things this
THE NEW START
Report is kind of obliged to say of us. Ever so
gently, but it gets them said. The way we hang on.
And get. I never saw it before. I suppose because
Fve never looked. Been afraid of being called a
prig perhaps. Taking life too seriously and all that.
But when you look straight at it, and read those
papers which aren't Bolshevik, which aren't even
Labourite, mind you you see things."
He faced the socialist proposition. "Are we para-
sites?" he asked.
Out of something he called their "net production"
of coal, Rylands and Cokeson got in royalties and
profits seventeen per cent. "Royalties by right and
profits by habit," he said. She made a mental note to
find out about net production.
He laughed abruptly. "I'm talking to-night I
seem to be doing all the talking. Just outpouring,"
"Oh! Fve wanted you to talk," she said. "For
all our life together I've been wondering What
does he think? What does he feel? I mean about
these things these things that really matter. And
this is how you feel. It's so true, my dear, we don't
give enough. We're not good enough. We take and
we don't repay."
"But even if we did all w;e could, how could we
"We could at least do all we could."
He stood quite still for a time and then came over
to her. He bent down over her and sat down beside
her, he kissed her face, cool and infinitely delicate in
the moonlight, and crumpled up beside her chaise-
longue, a dark heap with a pale clear profile, and his
ear against her hand. She loved the feel of his ear.
a My dear, it's so amaxing!" he whispered.
"When we begin to look at ourselves. To see how
near we may be to the things they say of us in Hyde
He brooded. "Getting all we do out of the coun-
try and doing nothing for it. A bit of soldiering in
the war but it was the Tommies got the mud and
the short commons. And things like that. . . .
What else have I done for this?"
This in his whispered voice was all the beauty in
their lives, this warm globe of silver and ebony in
which they nestled darkly together.
"Presently I am expected to sit for Sealholme
just to make sure nobody gets busy with our roy-
"Suppose I stood for Sealholme on the other side!
"It is funny to wake up ? so to speak, and find my-
self with all this socialism running about in my
He rubbed his ear and cheek against her hand as a
cat might do. "Is it you has given me this socialism?
I must have caught it from you."
She pinched his ear softly. "YouVe been think-
"If it isn't you, it's"
He paused for her to fall into his trap.
"Sempack," she guessed.
"Bullace," he said. "Queer beast. Something be-
tween an ass and a walrus. Egg on his moustache.
But he gave the show away. All his talk about
labour- -and keeping labour down. So utterly
mean. Bluster and meanness. Yes. But how does
Bullace stand to Uncle Robert? , . .
"Where does Uncle Robert come in?"
THE NEW START
"You are the lightest thing in the world, Cynthia.
I've not given you a fair chance with me. I've never
given us a fair chance with ourselves. We have to
think things out. All this stuff. Where we are and
what we are."
"And then 1 suppose what we have to do."
He went off at a tangent. "My Cynthia. I love
"My dear" she whispered and drew his head into
the crook of her arm against her crescent breast and
kissed his hair.
"Two kids. That's been the pose. Pretty dears!
Lovely to see how happy they are. Uncle Robert
will see to things. But not such kids. Not such kids
that we can't spend twenty-two thousand a year on
ourselves and bring a child into the world. What
am I? Twenty-nine! . . . Too much of this dar-
ling kid business. We're man and woman 5 caught un-
prepared. . . ."
He had a flash of imagination. "Suppose I went
and looked over this balcony and down there in the
black shadows under the palm trees I saw the miners
who pay for this house, with their lanterns, cramped
as they are in the mine, creeping forward, step by
step, picking and sweating through the shadows, eh?
Chaps younger than me. Boys some of ? em. And
suppose one or two of 'em looked up! ...
"God! the things 1 don't know! The things I've
never thought about! The hours of perfect health
Pve spent on that cursed tennis court while all this
trouble was brewing! . . . When you and I might
have been talking and learning to understand!'*
Astounding this burst of pent-up radicalism!
How long had it been accumulating?
Brooding, reading, thinking; how silent he had
been! And then these ideas, these very decisive
ideas for all their inchoate expressiveness.
SO soon as Philip had departed it was Mrs.
Rylands' intention to begin a great clearing
and tidying-up of her mind. She was de-
lighted but also she was a little alarmed at her hus-
band's fall into violent self-criticism and his manifest
resolve to think things out for himself. She felt that
he might very easily outrun her in mental thorough-
ness, once he set his face in that direction, and so she
would get as far along the road as she could before
he could overtake her. She condemned other people
for Stupidity, perhaps too readily, but what if she
were put to the question? How far from the inde-
fensibly Stupid were the philosophical and religious
assumptions upon which she rested? What really
could she say she believed about the world? What
did she think she was living for, if so comprehensive
'a question chanced to be put to her? And if she could
so far accept that question as to imagine it put to her,
wasn't she in conscience bound to set about preparing
One of her Oxford cousins, some years ago, had
made her a very pleasant and tantalising present of
three books of blank paper, very good hand-made
paper, gilt edged along the top and bound in green
leather. She had resolved at once to write all sorts
of things in these books, so many sorts of things, that
LADY CATHERINE HAS NOTHING TO DO
still the pages remained virgin. But now was a great
occasion. She had brought them with her to Italy.
She looked for them and found them and took out
one of these little volumes and handled it and turned
its pages over. In this new phase of existence she
had entered, she found her pleasure in the sense of
touch much increased and it seemed to her that her
delight in fine and pretty things was greater than it
had ever been before. She almost caressed the little
book and stood before her window holding it with
both hands, dreaming of the things she would put
into it. She saw, though not very distinctly, preg-
nant aphorisms and a kind of index to her knowledge
and beliefs spreading over those nice pages. The
binding was quite beautifully tooled, the leather had
a faint, exquisite smell and the end paper was creamy,
powdered with gold stars, all held together by a dia-
She mused a great deal about what she would
write first, but for a time she could not sit down to
think out anything to the writing stage because Cath-
erine would insist on talking to her. Hitherto she
and Catherine had got on very well together but
without any excesses of directness or intimacy. She
.had always accepted the view of her husband and his
set that Catherine was "all right" and more sinned
against than sinning, but she had never been disposed
to wander imaginatively in those romantic tangles
which made Catherine's passions, it would seem, so
different from her own.
Catherine's role was to be a gallant and splendid
beauty, a summoner and a tester of men. Men who
were going east turned west at her passing and, for
better or worse, were never quite the same men again.
She had summoned and tested her wealthy husband
until he had become an almost willing respondent,
with a co-respondent of no importance^ and left her
the freest woman in the world. What she did was
right j the essential purity of her character was not
so much accepted as waved before the world like a
flag. She did quite a lot of things. Cynthia had
shirked her confidences because among other reasons
she felt that it would make her own relations to
Philip seem too abject. But the confidences came.
"I'd like to take you in the car along the upper
Corniche and up to Puget-Theniers or Annot to-
day," she said. "It would do us both good. Every-
body going has left me jangling."
"We might run against your Mr. Sempack/ 5 said
Cynthia. "Annot? Aren't the Verdon gorges some-
"I don't see why all the blue mountains of France
should be closed to us because Mr. Sempack is wan-
dering about with a knapsack in a bad temper trying
to remember something he has never as a matter of
Mrs. Rylands made no effort to understand.
"We'd have to ask Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan to
come," she remarked.
Lady Catherine by a beautiful grimace expressed
an extreme aversion to Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan.
"This little sitting-room of yours is the only refuge.
. . 'Dear Lady/ he says. . . . Why doesn't he go
off to that other cultivated American of his at Torre
She became derogatory of Mr. Plantagenet-
"I saw him from my window. He was walking
LADY CATHERINE HAS NOTHING TO DO
along the path to the marble faun and he was waving
that hand of his and bowing. All to himself. I
suppose he was rehearsing some new remark."
Her mind went off at a tangent. "Cynthia," she
said. a Do you think a man like Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan ever makes love to women I mean 5 really
makes love actually? 33
Mrs. Rylands declined to take up the specula-
tion. Meanwhile Lady Catherine threw out material.
"He may be seventy. Of course he's pckled for
fifty-five. He'd say things. Elegant things. Gal-
lantry's in the man. He'd say everything there had
to be said perfectly but then? . . ." She brooded
malignantly on possible situations.
"I suppose men go on with the forms of love-
making right to the end of their lives just like a
hen runs about when its head's chopped off."
She came round through such speculations to what
was evidently her disturbing preoccupation. "Now
Mr. Sempack talks" she said.
She plunged. "What do you think of Mr. Sem-
pack ? Cynthia? What do you think of him? What
do you think of a man like that? There's an effect
of strength and greatness about him. And yet what
does he do} Is he a snare and a delusion?"
She seated herself on the end of the sofa, side-
saddle fashion with one foot on the floor, and re-
garded her friend expectantly.
"What are you up to with Mr. Sempack?" said
Mrs, Rylands would not take that as an answer.
She remained quietly interrogative.
"He exasperates me," said Lady Catherine.
"Every one/ 5 she went on, "seems to look up to
him and respect him. Every one, that is, who's
heard of him. Why? He's tremendously big and I
suppose there's something big about the way he looks
at the world and talks about progress, and treats all
we are doing as something that will be all over in no
time and that cannot matter in the least, but, after
all, what does all this towering precipice sort of busi-
ness amount to? He isn't really a precipice. I sup-
pose if some one up there in the mountains held him
up and demanded his pocket-book, he'd do something
about it. He couldn't just try to pass it off with the
remark that robbers would be out-of-date in quite a
few centuries' time and so it didn't matter. Espe-
cially if they hit him or something."
Mrs. Rylands was smilingly unhelpful.
"I believe he'd hit back/' said Lady Catherine*
"I don't see why he shouldn't/' said Mrs. Rylands.
"He'd be clumsy but he might hit hard. He's one
of those queer men who seem to keep strong without
exercise. Unless walking is exercise."
Mrs. Rylands offered no contributions.
"He seems to think women are like raspberries in a
garden. You pick one as you go past, but you don't
go out of your way for her."
"I can't imagine a Mrs* Sempacfc."
"It's a bit of an exercise," said Lady Catherine.
"Rather like that awful hat of his, she'd be. Or his
valise. Put up on the luggage rack, left in the con-
signe, covered with rags of old labels, jammed down
and locked violently with everything inside higgledy
piggledy. And yet What is it, Cynthia? There's
something attractive about that man."
"One or two little things I've observed," reflected
LADY CATHERINE HAS NOTHING TO DO
Cynthia absently, looking down at the dear green
leather book in her hand. Then she regarded her
Lady Catherine coloured slightly. "I admit it,"
she said. "I suppose it's just because he's so wanting
in visible delicacy. It gives him an effect of being
tremendously male. He is that. Don't you think
that's it, Cynthia? And something about him as
though there were immense forces still to be awak-
ened. His voice; it's a good voice. And some-
thing that smoulders deep in his eyes."
Mrs. Rylands suddenly resolved to become aggres-
"Catherine! Tell mej why did he go away from
"That's exactly what I want to know. He meant
to go for good."
"That's why you made me see him."
"I thought it was your place to see him."
Mrs. Rylands put her head on one side and re-
garded her friend critically. "Did you make love to
Lady Catherine's colour became quite bright, "I
want to see ? my dear 3 what that man is like awake.
I am curious. Like most women. And he hesitates
and then runs away to walk about Gorges! He
did hesitate. But this flight! . . . And here am
I left with nothing in the world to do! ...
Except of course look after dear little you. Who're
perfectly able to look after yourself."
Mrs. Rylands smiled with a perfect understanding
at her friend. "And talk about him."
"Well, he interests me."
"You made love to him and startled and amazed
him. Why did you do It? You didn't want to be
Lady Catherine Sempack?"
a l want to make that man realise his position in
the world. Making love isn't matrimony. One
can be interested? 5
It occurred to Lady Catherine that, in view of re-
cent events., she might be wandering near a sore point.
But Mrs. Rylands* next remark showed her fully
able to cover any sore point that might be endangered.
"Catherine I don't want to know about things
Fm not supposed to know about but isn't there
some one in England called Sir Harry Fear on-O wen?
Who always goes about with his hyphen? Hasn't
he some sort of connexion ?"
Lady Catherine concealed considerable annoyance
rather imperfectly. She took a moment or so before
she replied compactly.
"He's in England. And he's busy. Too busy
even to write to his friends."
"He's preparing to save England from the Com-
munist revolution, isn't he? He's one of Colonel
Bullace's great idols. The colonel talked about
Lady Catherine allowed herself to be reluctantly
drawn off the Sempack scent.
a lt's amazing the things men will take seriously.
Do you believe there is any sense in this talk about a
revolution? Harry's great stunt is the National
Service League. As you probably know. Plans for
doing without the workers in all the public services
and that sort of thing if it comes to a fight, 1
liked him. For a time. He's a very good sort.
And handsome. With a voice. Opera tenor blood
perhaps it saves him from being dulL But I can't
THE GREEN LEATHER BOOK
go on being in love with a man who's In love with a
Civil War ? that nobody in his senses believes will
Lady Catherine wriggled off her sofa end and
went to the window. She felt that Cynthia by drag-
ging in Sir Harry had deliberately spoilt a good con-
versation. She still had a lot of speculative matter
about Sempack in her mind that she would have
liked to turn over. She had hardly begun. And the
Pearon-Owen affair had got itself a little disjointed
and wasn't any good for talking about.
"These glorious empty days! 71 she said without any
apparent perception of the trees and flowering ter-
races and sapphire sea below.
She stood against the blue for a time quite still.
She came back into the room and hung a shadowy
loveliness over her recumbent hostess.
a lf I thought there was a word of truth in this
Great Rebellion of the Proletariat I'd be off to Eng-
land by the night train. 5 *
MRS. RYLANDS found herself at last at
peace and with nothing between her and
her green leather book. Catherine had
hardly gone from the room before she was forgotten.
The couch on which Mrs. Rylands was lying was
a very comfortable couch and the jambs of the tall
window, the lower border of the orange sun-blind
and the parapet of her balcony framed a still picture
of the crowning fronds of three palm trees, a single
more distant cypress and the light-flood of the sky.
The day outside was intensely bright and real and
everything within cool, faint-coloured and unsub-
stantial. Mrs. Rylands' sensations floated on a great
restfulness and contentment 5 she was sustained by
this deep life stream that had entered into her and
taken control of her once uneasy self, a self in the
prof oundest contrast now to Lady Catherine's restless
activity. She had never felt so little disposed to
hurry or so serene. This high resolve to think out
all her world for Phil and have it clear and plain
was quite unruffled by any fret of urgency.
To begin with, she asked herself, "What do I
know? What have I that is fundamental?"
"Nothing," she told herself, with perfect calm.
"Do I believe anything?"
That she thought over. God? Nothing that
would have passed for a God in any time but this.
No trace of that old gentleman, the God of our
Fathers. At the dinner table of the Warwickshire
rectory she had been allowed to listen to much mod-
ern theology and it had left her with phrases about
the Absolute and Comprehensive Love that were
hardly more human than the square root of minus
one. Yet as her father used to say, the most impos-
sible hypothesis of all was a universe ruled by blind
chance. And the most incredible, an evil world. It
was something to believe that if one could see it
whole, as one never could, and if one could see it
through, the everything, was all right. She did be-
lieve that. Or was her conviction deeper than belief?
It might be the mere mental reflection of the phys-
ical well-being that had succeeded the first resis-
tances of her body to her surrender to destiny. But
in a mirror can there ever be any truth more pro-
found than reflection? That floated in her mind like
THE GREEN LEATHER BOOK
some noiseless moth and soared and passed beyond
Should she write this for the first entry in her
book: "There is no need to hurry. There is nothing
in the whole world to justify fear."
So far from believing in nothing, this was a tre-
mendous act of faith.
She lay criticising these projected first propositions,
indolently and yet clearly. Was this act of faith of
hers just then the purring of a well-fed cat upon its
cushions? No insect grub was ever cradled in so
silky and secure a cocoon as she. For her indeed
there might be no hurry and no fear, but what of the
general case, the common experience? Wasn't all
the world hurrying, all the world driven by fear?
But one hurried to make a speedy end to hurrying,
and fear was just an emotional phase in the search
for security. A man running from a tiger might
be mentally nothing but a passion of fear but, one
way or the other, that passion ended. A man run-
ning from a tiger was in no fit circumstances to appre-
hend fundamental truth} a woman caught up for a
little while from the intenser stresses of life seemed
more happily posed. Fear was an unendurable real-
ity but it was incidental. It was a condition of travel.
Just as haste and all struggle were incidental. The
final rightness of things was wider; you might only
see it incidentally in resting moments, but it was
always there. Faith could be more than incidental
and was more than incidental. While the water was
troubled it couldn't reflect the sky, but that didn't
prevent the sky being there to await reflection. All
religions and philosophies since the world began had
insisted that one must get out of the turmoil, some-
how, to catch any vision of true realities. And as
soon as you got that vision serenity.
That should be the first entry then 3 so soon as she
got up and could sit down to write it: "There is no
need to hurry. There is nothing in the whole world
to justify fear?*
After that the Thinker on the sofa rested for a
Presently she found a queer little aphorism drift-
ing through her mind with an air of wanting to get
into the green leather book: "Faith in goodj Faith in
God. w Just as easy to believe as deny that there was
something directive and friendly and sure of itself,
above all the contradictions and behind all the screens.
Immense, incomprehensible^ stupendous, silent,
something that smiled in the starry sky. . .
Then her mind drifted to the idea that every one
was too troubled about life, so very largely because
they had no faith in good. They hurried. Every
one was hurrying. If there was nothing whatever to
hurry about then they hurried about games, about
politics, about personal disputes. They invented
complications to trouble themselves. They accepted
conventions and would not look thoroughly into any-
thing because of this uncontrollable hurry. If only
they would take longer views and larger views, they
would escape from all this stress. It was just there
that the importance of Mr. Sempack came in. He
did take longer views and larger views and help
other people to take them. He presented Progress
as large and easy, swift and yet leisurely, sweep-
ing forward by and through and in spite of all the
disputations and hasty settlements and patchings up
and running to and fro. He conveyed his conviction
THE GREEN LEATHER BOOK
of a vast forward drive carrying the ordinary scurry-
ings of life upon its surface, great and worth while,
that comprehended a larger human life, a finer in-
dividual life, a happier life than at present we per-
mitted ourselves to realise. His vision of mankind
working its way, albeit still blindly and with tragic
blunderings, to a world civilisation and the attain*
ment of ever increasing creative power, gave a stand-
ard by which all the happenings of to-day, that
swirled us about so confusedly and filled the news-
papers so blindingly, could be judged and measured.
He must come back to Casa Terragena and he must
talk some more 5 and into the frame of progress he
would evoke, his hostess, with her green leather book
close at hand and receptive for all the finer phrases,
would fit her interpretation of the coal question and
the strike question and all the riddles and conflicts
of the arena into which Philip had gone down. And
Philip would begin writing those letters he had prom-
ised and she would get books and read. . .
At this point Mrs. Rylands* mind was pervaded by
a feeling that work time was over and that it ought
to be let out to play- It went off at once like a
monkey and ran up and down and about the still
palm fronds outside. They were like large feathers,
except that the leaflets did not lock together. Was
there any reason why they should be so like feathers?
Next the stem the leaflets were extraordinarily nar-
row; she wondered why? Each frond curved over
to its end harmoniously and evenly, so that to fol-
low it was like hearing a long cadence, and the leaflets
stood up at the arch of the curve and then slanted
and each was just the least little bit in the world
smaller and slanted the fraction of an inch more
steeply than the one below it. Each had a twist so
that it was bright, bright green and then came round
to catch the light and became dazzling silver to its
point. Each frond was a keyboard along which the
roving eye made visual music. Each played a witty
variation on the common theme.
MRS. RYLANDS came down out of her priva-
cies in time for lunch, but lunch was a little
delayed by the absence of Lady Catherine
and Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan. Catherine had flitted
off to Ventimiglia. A telegram and some letters had
awaited her in the hall, Bombaccio explained, some-
thing had excited her very much and off she had gone
forthwith in the second car, sweeping up Mr. Plan-
tagenet-Buchan on her way. She had been given the
second car because in defiance of all instructions to
the contrary, Bombaccio kept the first car for his mis-
tress. He would always do that to the end of things.
Lady Catherine was coming back, she was sure to
come back, said Bombaccio, but Mrs* Rylands was not
to wait lunch.
Mrs. Rylands found Miss Fenimore all alone in
the hall reading Saturday's English newspapers.
"Nothing seems settled about the miners," said Miss
Fenimore, handing over The Times, and neither lady
glanced at the French and Italian papers at all.
Mrs. Rylands found the name of an old school friend
among the marriages.
Miss Fenimore said she had been studying botany
all the morning. Her hostess asked what book she
had been using. "Oh! I haven't got a book yet/* said
Miss Fenimore. "I've just been walking about the
garden, you know, and reading some of the labels, so
as to get a General Idea first. One can get books any-
where, . . . I've always wanted to know something
Then with an immense eclat Lady Catherine re-
turned jErom Ventimiglia to proclaim the Social Revo-
lution in England, She came in trailing sunlight and
conflict with her, a beautiful voice, rich gestures and
billowing streamers, Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan hold-
ing his own, such as it was, on her outskirts.
^ "My dear,' 7 she cried. "It's come! The Impos-
sible has happened. I must go to England to-night
if the Channel boats are still running."
"What has come?" asked Mrs. Rylands.
"The General Strike. Proclaimed at midnight.
They've dared to fight us! Haven't you seen the
"There's nothing in the English papers," said
Mrs. Rylands and became aware of Miss Fenimore
rustling the French sheets behind her. "Greve gen-
erale," came Miss Fenimore in confirmation. "And
a long leader all in italics, I seej Nos -pauvres voisins!
Now the turn of England has come."
Bombaccio appeared and took Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan's hat and cane.
"Don't wait lunch for me," said Lady Catherine,
sweeping across the hall to the staircase. "I'll be
down in a minute. I'll have to tell Soames to pack.
This has stirred me like great music."
"Lunch in five minutes," said Mrs. Rylands to
Bombaccio's enquiring pause and turned to the Italian
papers. The General iStrike? Because of the miners.
But Mr. Baldwin had been quite determined to settle
it, and the owners and the government and the min-
ers' representatives had been holding conference
after conference. In the most friendly spirit. Was
her picture of it all wrong? What was Philip doing
away there? And Colonel Bullace and his braves?
And all the people one knew? How skimpy the
news in these foreign papers was, the important news,
the English news!
Mrs. Rylands was still dazed by the sudden change
in the aspect of things in general and of Lady Cath-
erine in particular when the party had assembled at
the lunch table. Lady Catherine dominated the sit-
uation. "Letters of mine went astray. To Rapallo.
Or I should have known before. How amazing it
is! How wonderful and stirring !"
a One thing I observe/ 5 began Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan, but Lady Catherine was following her own
thoughts and submerged him.
"To think that they have daredP J she cried. "I
shall go back as a volunteer to serve as a nurse, a
helper, anything. Captain Fearon-Owen says "
"You have heard from him?" asked Mrs. Rylands.
"Two letters. They came together. From Ra-
pallo. And a summons by wire. Every one is
wanted now, every sort of help. The printers have
struck. There are no papers. The railwaymen are
out! Not an omnibus in London. For all we know,
while we sit here, all the Russians and Yids in White-
chapel may be marching under the red flag to West-
"You really think so?" said Mrs. Rylands and
tried to imagine it.
"There is one thing I think 'about this business,"
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan tried.
"I wonder if they have machine-guns," the lady
flowed over him. "Three months ago Captain
Fearon-Owen wanted a search through the East End
for munitions. But nobody would listen to him.
And he always said the Royal Mint was much too
far to the east for safety. There are always grena-
diers there just a few. They go along the Em-
bankment every morning, A mere handfuL
Against hundreds of thousands.'*
"Like the poor dear Swiss Guard in Paris," Miss
Fenimore shivered. "The Lion of Lucerne."
"Months ago. Captain Fearoa-Owen made a plan.
I read it and laughed at it. I thought it was extrava-
gant* I suppose every one thought it was extrava-
gant. But he had foreseen all this."
"Foreseen what, my dear?" asked Mrs. Rylands.
"This rising. He was for evacuating the Mint.
And having naval forces ready to throw into the
Docks right away."
"Rough on the naval forces," Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan allowed himself to murmur to some new
"The Docks are full of food/ 5 said Lady Cather-
ine, pursuing her strategic meditations.
"There is one aspect of this business," Mr. Plan-
tagenet-Buchan tried again softly, addressing himself
to a freshly acquired potato.
But Lady Catherine was too intent oa battle to
heed his attempted interpolation. The poor little
potato never learnt that one aspect of the business
before it vanished from the world. Its end was
silence. Did it meet truth and knowledge in those
warm darknesses? Who can tell?
"The main danger," Lady Catherine had to ex-
plain, "is the North. Captain Fearon-Owen does not
think very much of the Midlands. Labour there is
too diversified for unity and too soundly English for
insurrection. But the Tyne is a black spot* And the
Clyde. Red as it can be. And there's no reckoning
with South Wales. A Welsh mob could be a very
ugly mob, excitable and crueL Especially when
it sings. If they chanced on some song like the
Marseillaise! Nothing could stop them."
"You talk as though there was an insurrection,
Catherine," said Mrs. Rylands. "But the French
papers speak only of a strike. Isn't that rather a
more passive thing? "
"A General Strike/* said Lady Catherine inform-
ingly, and there were trumpets in her voice. She
looked like Britannia after putting on her helmet and
drawing her sword. a A General Strike is an insur-
It was plain that in the absence of the other pa-
triots, lunch was going to be a solo. A cowed feeling
came over Mrs. Rylands. She had always felt that
some day Catherine would up and cow her and now
that day had come. Bombaccio too looked cowed,
as cowed as Bombaccio could look. There was no
checking Lady Catherine by offering her vegetables.
One had a feeling all through the lunch as though
one was eating in church. One could not fight it
down. But what a marvel Catherine was, what a
chameleon! For days she had been a shadow and
echo of Mr. Sempack, a goad in that excellent man's
loins. Now it was as if a record had been whisked off
a gramophone and replaced by another, of an entirely
different character. One heard the British patriot
marching to battle and saw a forest of waving Union
Jacks, one heard the lumbering artillery, the jingle-
jangle of cavalry, the loud purring of tanks defiling
into industrial towns at dawn. One heard the threat-
ening whirr of aeroplanes dispersing dangerous
meetings in public squares. And amidst the storm,
and over the storm and through the storm one heard
of Captain Fearon-Owen.
"Captain Fearon-Owen says there must be no
weakness. There must be no faltering. Not even
in the highest quarters."
"But surely ! " protested Miss Fenimore.
"The King is too kind," said Lady Catherine.
Then reflectively: "Of course I must fly from
Paris. At Dover there will be no trains. I shall
telegraph from Mentone to Le Bourget to keep a
"Flying over England in revolt. Watching them
striking and striking far below. Dreadful! but
Afterwards Mrs. Rylands tried to gather together
and preserve some of the handsomer thistles that
thrust themselves up through the jungle heat of
Lady Catherine's mood. But she found much of it
was lost for ever, gone like tropical vegetation in
the moment of its flourishing.
The government she learnt might falter or some
of it. Mr. Baldwin was an ineffective man. Cap-
tain Fearon-Owen was not sure of Worthington
Evans } he would have far preferred Winston at
the War Office. Jix at the Home Office was a god-
send however. He was truly strong. He never re-
prieved. Quiet, almost nervous in appearance, a
slender man with a round boyish face but he never,
never reprieved. Practically* Well impatient at
what seemed detraction of her idol "once perhaps."
But vigorous action he was sure to support. Occasions
might arise, said Captain Fearon-Owen, when it
would be necessary to "take over" initiative from
"falterers in positions of responsibility."
"You cannot always be sending back for Instruc-
tions/ 5 said Lady Catherine darkly.
"Now it has come/ 5 said Lady Catherine, "I am
glad it has come/' and sat still for some moments
with a quiet smile on her handsome animated face.
"There is a little point I have noticed/ 5 Mr. Plan-
tagenet-Buchan reflected, with the nutcrackers in his
hand for by that time they had got to dessert. "I
have observed "
Lady Catherine was not heeding him. "It makes
one feel frightfully Nietzschean," she said. "Sup-
pose England too has to fall back on a dictator-
"I suppose," said Mrs. Rylands with an innocence
that seemed almost too obvious to her, "that would
have to be Captain Fearon-Owen?"
But Lady Catherine was exalted above all ridicule.
"Anyhow it was he who saw it clearest," she said and
bestirred herself for the chasing of Soames.
"Mr. Sempack," Mrs. Rylands began, but her
guest did not heed that once so interesting name.
"Leadership," said Lady Catherine, standing up
splendidly, "is the supreme gift of the gods."
She went off to pack for civil warfare like a child
going to be dressed for a treat.
LADY CATHERINE and her maid departed
in the late afternoon after a flurried and un-
consoling tea and left an atmosphere of crisis
and dismay behind them. After lunch Mrs. Rylands
AFTER THE WHIRLWIND
tried to sleep according to her regime, but the gaunt
spectacle of dear old England, the unimaginable
spectacle of dear old England torn by a monstrous
civil conflict., with a massacre of the sentinels at the
Royal Mint and a sinister rabble marching upon.
Westminster; Scotland Yard more like the Bastille
than ever and machine-guns making a last harvest of
resistance down the Mall before the sack of Bucking-
ham Palace began, kept her awake. These were pre-
posterous notions, but failing any other images it was
difficult to keep them off the screen of her mind.
What could this strike of a whole people be like in
reality and why had no one realised the advent of
this frightful clash of classes in time?
She just lay awake and stared at the blank of her
imagination as some gravelled author destitute of de-
tail might stare painfully at a sheet of paper.
When at last Lady Catherine had truly gone, it
was as if earth and silence had suddenly swallowed a
Primrose League fair with five large roundabouts
and a brass band* She turned round to find Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan behind her appreciating the
"Marvellous energy,' 5 he said.
"She will be a great help," said Cynthia with un-
"There is one thing I observe," said Mr. Plantag-
"Let us have some fresh tea," said Mrs. Rylands,
"and sit down and try to restore our minds to order."
Then his words awakened a familiar echo in her
mind. Surely he had said them before as far as
that! Several times. And several times been in-
Of course he had! He had been trying to make
this remark ever since he and Lady Catherine had
come back from Ventimiglia. Perhaps he had been
trying to make it even in Ventimiglia. It was a
shame! Mrs. Rylands turned to him brightly. "You
were saying, Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan?"
He laughed deprecatingly. "Well/ 3 he preluded.
"There is one little thing about this crisis, dear
lady/' he said, and made the diamond glitter 5 "one
small consoling thing. If you will consult those
French and Italian papers. You will see that while
on the one hand they proclaim the outbreak of the
social war and the probable end of the British Em-
pire, they note, less conspicuously but I think more
convincingly, that the franc is still falling and the
pound sterling still holding its own even against our
own more than golden dollar."
"And that means?"
"That every one does not take this crisis quite so
seriously as Lady Catherine. Suppose we wait a day
more before we despair of England. I can quite be-
lieve that even now Westminster is not in flames. I
am convinced even that dinner will be served quite
normally in Buckingham Palace to-night."
"And meanwhile," smiled his hostess, "unless
Bombacdo has heard the call of his union, we might
have a little fresh tea."
Miss Fenimore leapt to the bell.
They moved into the lower part of the hall and
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan yielded himself to the larg-
est armchair with a sigh of contentment that it was
difficult to disconnect altogether from the recent de-
parture of their lovely friend.
There were some moments of silence.
"This man at Torre Pellice," began Mr. Plantag-
enet-Buchan in a reflective voice, "this man I am
AFTER THE WHIRLWIND
proposing to visit, has a very fine taste indeed. He
collects. He has a curiosity and a liveliness of mind
that I find most enviable. In these times of con-
flict and dispersal it is rather nice to think of a col-
lector and of a few minor things anyhow being put
out of immediate danger of breakage."
He paused. Miss Fenimore made a purr of ap-
proval and Mrs. Rylands instructed Bombaccio about
the fresh tea. Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan continued
"One sort of thing he collected for a time were
those prostrate trumpets of coloured glass in which
the early Victorians put flowers. 'Cornucopias, 5 I
fancy they were called. Typically there was a solid,
heavy slab of alabaster-like substance and on this the
cornucopia reposed and often by a pretty fancy its
lower end was finished off by an elegant hand of
metal and the cornucopia became a sleeve. These
cornucopias may have interbred a little with those
cups they call rhytons which end in a head below.
There must have been a great abundance of them at
one time in early Victorian England, and they are
still to be found in considerable variety, in purple
and blue and coloured glass and in dead white glass
with spangles and in imitation marble. At one time
no dinner table could have been complete without a
pair, probably matching a glass epergne. My friend
discovered one in a little back street shop in Pimlico.
At first he knew so little about these things that he
accumulated single ones and only realised later that
they must go in pairs. He was happy for a time.
Until he began to detect the tracks of some abler
seeker in this field. Another others perhaps were
collecting. He came upon articles in the Connois-
seur, in other art magazines. The situation became
plainer. The harvest had been gathered In. Mr.
Frank Galsworthy, the painter who has that beautiful
cottage garden in Surrey, had got so far ahead with
them, that my friend could not hope to do more than
glean after him. So my friend turned his attention
to Welsh love spoons.
"Do you know of them? Do you know what they
are? They are wonderful exploits in carving.
(Thank you, that is exactly as I like it. One lump
only.) They used to be made perhaps some are
still made by Welsh lovers when they were court-
ing. They were carved all out of one chosen piece of
good oak. There would be a spoon and then at the
end of its short handle a chain of links and it would
all end in a hook or a whistle. The links would be
free and there would be perhaps an extra bit, a
barred cage with little balls running about inside 3
the whole contraption made out of one solid piece of
timber. I never imagined the Welsh were such
artists at wood carving. I suppose Mr. Jones would
sit at the side of the beloved while he did It. Love
spoons. What an answer to Caradoc Evans! You
have heard the mysterious word ^spooning/ It Is
said to come from that."
Miss Fenimore was greatly delighted at this un-
expected etymology. Her pleasure cried aloud.
Her sudden nervous laughter, a certain glow,
might have led a careless observer to suppose her an
adept at spooning. She slaked her excitement by at-
tention to the teapot. There was a brief interval of
cake-offering. Miss Fenimore offered cake to Mr.
Plantagenet-Buchan and Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan
offered cake to Mrs. Rylands and Miss Fenimore
and Mrs. Rylands offered cake to Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan and Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan took some cake.
a l am afraid/ 5 said Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan biting
his cake, "that I am too hopelessly indolent and in-
consecutive ever to make a good collector or else I
think I should have devoted myself to bergamotes."
a l thought they were a kind of pear/* said Mrs.
"A kind of orange, primarily. But the name is
also used for a delicious silly sort of little leather box
made years ago in the country round about Grasse.
You may have seen one by chance. They still lurk,
looking rather depressed and dirty, in those queer
corners of old curiosity shops where one finds little
bits of silver and impossible rings. It is a box of
leather, yes, but the skin of which the leather is made
is orange skin and it is polished and faintly stained
and has a dainty little flower or so painted upon it.
The boxes are oval or heart-shaped 5 you know the
delicate insinuations of that age. These bergamotes
must be, most of them, a hundred years old or more
and yet when you open them and snuff inside you
can persuade yourself that the faint flavour of orange
clings to them yet, scent that was brewed in the sun-
shine when Louis Philippe was King. 35
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan could not have chosen a
better theme to exorcise the flare of unrest and
alarm that had blown about the Casa Terragena
household for the past three hours.
MR. PLANTAGENET-BUCHAN was quite
charming that night. It was to be his last
night, he intimated ever so gently, and to-
morrow he would make his devious way by local
trains to Torre Pellice and his collector friend. For
it really seemed there was a friend.
After dinner there was a luminous peacefulness
in the world outside and an unusual warmth, the ris-
ing moon had pervaded heaven with an intense blue
and long slanting bars of dreamy light lifted them-
selves from the horizontal towards the vertical,
slowly and indolently amidst the terraces and trees
and bushes. At two or three in the morning when
every one was asleep they would stand erect like
"I think I could walk a little/' said Mrs. Rylands
and they went outside upon the terrace and down
the steps to the path that led through the close
garden with the tombstone of Amoena Lucina to
the broad way that ended at last in a tall jungle of
subtly scented nocturnal white flowers. They were
tall responsible looking flowers. The moonlight
among their petals armed them with little scimitars
and bucklers of silver. Among these flowers were
moths, great white moths, so that it seemed as if ever
and again a couple of blossoms became detached and
pirouetted together. Hostess and guest for Miss
Fenimore, with her instinctive tact, did not join them
promenaded 'this broad dim path, to and fro, and
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan spread his Epicurean philos-
ophy unchallenged before Mrs. Rylands' enquir-
He had been much struck by his own impromptu
antithesis of Loveliness to Loneliness and this he now
developed as a choice between the sense of beauty and
the sense of self. He began apropos of Lady Cather-
ine and her excited interest in present things. "How
strange it is that she should incessantly want to do,
when all that need be asked of her more than of
any one else is surely that she should simply be."
He passed easily into personal exposition.
"I treat myself/ 3 he said, "as a piece of bric-a-brac
in this wonderful collection, the universe, a piece that
differs from the other odd, quaint and amusing pieces,
simply because my eye happens to be set in it. Here
in this lovely garden, which is so irrelevant to all the
needless haste and turmoil of life, I can be perfectly
happy. I am perfectly happy to-night. My chief
complaint against existence is that it happens too
much and keeps on hurrying by. Before you can
appreciate it in the least. I seem ialways to be try-
ing to pick up exquisite things it drops, with all the
crowding next things jostling and thrusting my poor
stooping back. Get out of the way there! Eager to
trample my treasure before I can even make it a
treasure. Like trying to pick up a lost pearl in the
middle of the Place de la Concorde. If I could plan
my own fate, I would like to live five hundred years
in a world in which nothing of any importance ever
happened at all. A world like a Chinese plate. I
should have a little sinecure perhaps or I should per-
form some graceful functions in the ceremonies of a
religion that had completely lost whatever reality it
Mrs. Rylands was not unmindful of her duty to
the little green leather book that waited in her sitting-
"You do not believe in God?" she asked, to be per-
"In loveliness, I believe. And I delight in gods.
But in God How it would spoil this perfect night,
this crystal sky, this silver peace, if one thought it
was not precisely the pure loveliness it is! Without
an arriere $ensee. If one had to turn it all into alle-
gory and guess what it meant! If one even began to
suspect that it was just a way of signalling something
to us, on the part of a Supreme Personage !"
"But if one took it simply as a present from him?"
"That would be better. Then the only duty in life
would be to accept and enjoy. And God would sit
over us like some great golden Buddha, smiling,
blessing and not minding in the least. Not signify-
ing in the least."
"That is all very well for happy and pampered
people like ourselves, living in houses and gardens
like this one."
"One can start in search of beauty from any start-
ing point and one is still a pilgrim even if one dies
by the way."
"But most human beings start from such fright-
ful starting points. They hardly get a glimpse of
"Not sunlight? Not the evening compositions of
clouds and sun? The sunsets in Mr. Bennett's Five
Towns are the loveliest in the world. I assure you.
The beauty of London Docks again? Or it may be
music heard by chance from an open window in the
street ? Or flowers ? "
He shook his head gravely, almost regretfully.
"Every one can find beauty. Think of the beauty
of sunlight at the end of a tunnel."
"I am afraid the world is full of crippled and
driven lives. They're hungry and afraid. What
chance of seeing beauty have most poor people
anywhere? Even when it is under their noses. You
can't see beauty with miserable eyes. Beauty does
not make happinessj it only comes to the happy.
Latterly that has begun to haunt me dreadfully."
"No," said Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan. "That is
wrong. Don't spoil to-night."
"But they pay for this! Haven't we a duty to
"Surely as much duty to this night, to leave it
serene* 3 *
"I can't feel like that I can't forget this dismal
coal strike,, the trouble of it, the people out of work,
the anxiety, the need in millions of poor worried
"My dear lady! they chose it. They need not
have been born."
Came a pause as the great modern topic of restric-
tion was faced.
"But it is rather difficult for a child, which doesn't
exist, and isn't perhaps going to exist for some time,
to weigh all the pros and cons and decide "
"Its parents and guardians, its godfathers and god-
mothers wherein it was made, could act for it. It
isn't consulted as a whole so to speak, its constituents
are consulted tacitly. And it has at any rate its own
blind Will to Live. Most parentage is inadvertent.
What a precious relief is the thought of birth control!
The time is coming when it will be practically im-
possible to tempt any one to get born except under
the most hopeful and favourable circumstances."
"But meanwhile ? "
"I am like the great Mr. Sempackj I refuse to be
eaten up by meanwhile."
"Meanwhile one must live."
"As calmly as possible. As inactively 'appreciative
as possible. It is just because one must live that one
tries to give oneself wholly to a night like this. How
rarely do even such favoured ones as we are get an
hour so smooth and crystalline as this ! The stillness !
The chief fault I have with living is the way life
rushes us about. Rushes every one about. What a
hurry, what a scurry is history! Think of all the
hosts and armies and individuals that have thrust
and shoved and whacked their mules and horses along
this very Via Aurelia in your garden. Which to-
night is just a deep black pit smothered in ivy.
Grave of innumerable memories. If we went down
there to-night to that old paved track I wonder if we
should see their ghosts! Romans and Carthaginians,
Milanese and Burgundians, French and Italians,
kings and bishops and conquerors and fugitives. It
would be a fit punishment for all their hurry and vio-
lence to find them there. It would serve them right
for all their wicked inattention to loveliness, to put
them back again upon their paces and make them
repeat them over and over, over and over, night after
night, century after century. . . , n
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan was smitten by a bright
idea. "Perhaps some day some later Einstein will
take out patents and contrive a way of slowing down
time. Without affecting our perceptions. Then we
shall not be everlastingly hurried on by strikes and
wars and passions and meal-times and bed-times.
With the newspapers rustling and flying through the
air like witches in a storm,
"But I chatter on and on, my dear Mrs. Rylands.
You set me talking. And I am trying to forget the
Social Revolution now in progress and how we are
all to be swept away. Or else saved by Captain
Fearon-Owen, was it? and Lady Catherine. Which-
ever is the worse.
"Before we go in, may we just walk up that path
above the house to the little bridge over the gorge
beyond the herbarium and the laboratory? Do you
know it? By night? There the hillside goes up very
steeply and everything, the trees and even the rocks,
seems to be drawn up too in a kind of magical unan-
imity. You must see it by moonlight. An immense
flamboyance of black and white. Stupendous shad-
ows. I discovered it last night as I prowled about
the garden before turning in. It streams up and
up and up, and over it brood the wet black precipices
of the mountains, endlessly vertical, with little
threads of silver. The eye follows it up. It is like
all the Gothic in the world multiplied by ten. It is
like listening to some tremendous crescendo. Far-
ther than this he cannot go, you say, and he goes
farther. At the top the precipices fairly overhang.
One stands on the bridge at the foot of it, minute, in-
significant, overawed. . . .
"By daylight it is nothing very wonderful.
Hardly anything at all."
MR. PLANTAGENET-BUCHAN had
scarcely gone from Casa Terragena. before
Mr. Sempack reappeared. Mrs. Rylands
had walked part of the way up to the road gate with
Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan and after wishing him fare-
well she had turned off to a seat beneath some Japa-
nese medlars where there were long orderly beds of
violets like the planche of a Grasse violet grower,
and a level path of pebble mosaic that led round the
headland towards the rocky portals of the Caatinga.
She had brought the green leather book with her, be-
cause his talk overnight had set her thinking. She
found herself in the closest sympathy and the com-
pletest intellectual disagreement with the things he
Just as she felt that at the core of things was
courage, so she had an irrational conviction that,
properly seen, the general substance of things was
beauty. To Mr. Piantagenet-Buchan's craving to
lead a life of pure appreciation she found a tempera-
mental response. She could quite easily relax into
that pose. But also she perceived something selec-
tive, deliberate and narrowing in his attitude. He
reminded her of those people, now happily becoming
old-fashioned, who will not look at a lovely land-
scape except through a rolled-up newspaper or some
such frame. Or of people who cannot admire flowers
without picking them. He seemed to think that the
appreciation of beauty was a kind of rescue work 5 to
take the lovely thing and trim it up and carry it off.
But she thought it was a matter of recognition and
acceptance. So while in practice he was for sealing
up himself and his sensations in a museum case as it
were with beauty, she was for lying open to the four
winds of heaven, sure that beauty would come and
remain. And while he posed as a partisan of beauty
even against the idea of God 5 her idea of an ever
deepening and intensifying realisation of the beauty
in things was inseparably mingled with the concep-
tion of discovering God. He and she could perceive
the poignant delight of a star suddenly flashing
through forest leaves with a complete Identity of
pleasure and a complete divergence of thought. And
so while art for him was quintessence^ for her it was
only a guide.
But while she was still struggling with this diffi-
cult disentanglement of assents and dissents that her
analysis of Mr. Plantagenet-Buchan required, and
before she had made a single entry in the green
leather book as a result of these exercises, she became
aware of Mr. Sempack descending the winding path
that was the main route of communication between
the gates and the house. Beside him a requisitioned
under-gardener bore his knapsack and valise and an-
swered such questions and agreed with such opinions
as the great Utopologist's Italian permitted him to
It was Mr. Sempack. And he was changed.
Recognition was followed by astonishment. He
was greatly changed. He was different altogether.
More erect rampant. No longer had he the qual-
ity of rocky scenery; he had the quality of rocky
scenery that had arisen and tossed its mane and
marched. "Tossing its mane" mixed oddly with
rocky scenery, but that was how it came to her. His
hair had all been thrust and combed back from his
forehead, violently, so that the effect of his head,
considered largely, had become leonine 5 he lifted his
roughly handsome profile and seemed to snuff the
air. He had no hat! Hitherto he and his hat had
been inseparable out of doors, but now he neither
wore nor carried one. What could he have done
with his hat? Moreover his cravat had suffered some
exchange, had become large and loose and as it were,,
it was too far off to be certain, black silk, tied with
the extravagance natural to a Latin man of genius,
but otherwise remarkable and improper. And he
walked erect with a certain conscious rectitude and
large confident strides and assisted himself with a
bold stout walking stick. Mrs. Rylands could not
remember that stick j she had an impression he had
gone off with an umbrella. At any rate he had gone
off with the appearance of having an umbrella. She
became eager to scrutinise this renascent Sempack
closelier. She stood up for the moment to give her
voice play and make herself more conspicuous. "Mr.
Sempack," she cried, "Mr. Sem-pack!"
He heard. He turned eagerly. Just for a mo-
ment a shade of disappointment may have betrayed
itself in his bearing. He hesitated, waved his stick,
glanced down towards the house and then after a
word or so with his garden man, submitted to his
obvious fate and ascended the steps to her.
"You've come back to us," she said, so giving him
the very latest news as he approached.
"I've had a splendid time among the hills," he
answered in that fine large voice of his. "How end-
lessly beautiful and unexpected France can be! And
what lonely places ! How are you? "
He was now standing in front of her.
"I'm better and happier, thanks to some good ad-
vice I had."
"If it was of service," he said. "Yes, you look
ever so much better. Indeed you look radiantly well.
How are the others?"
"Scattered for the most part."
He did not seem to mind about that. "Where is
Lady Catherine?" he asked.
As he spoke he looked at the cypresses and mag-
nolias that masked most of the house from him and
then up and down the slopes about them for the
lovely figure he sought. How easy a thing, Mrs.
Rylands reflected, it was to make a man over confi-
dent. He ? d gone off to make up his mind about
Lady Catherine, it was only too evident, and here
he was back with his mind made up, made up indeed
altogether, and quite oblivious to the fact that Lady
Catherine had gone on living at her own natural
pace, during his interval o indecision. He became
aware of a pause in answering his enquiry. His eyes
came back to the face of his hostess. (Surely he had
not been clipping those once too discursive eyebrows!
But he had!) She tried to impart her information
as though it was of no deep interest to either of them.
"Lady Catherine," she said, "has gone to Eng-
Mr. Sempack was a child when it came to conceal-
ing his feelings. "Gone to England !" he cried. "I
was convinced she would stay here."
"She was restless," said Mrs. Rylands.
"But / was restless!" protested Mr. Sempack,
opening vast gulfs of implication.
"She went yesterday."
"But why has she gone? Why should she go to
"When the news of the strike came it lit her up
like a rocket and off she went fiz-bang," said Mrs.
"To save the country."
"But this strike," said Mr. Sempack, "is nothing
at all. Just political nonsense. Why should she go
She found her respect for Mr. Sempack collapsing
like a snowman before a bonfire. She ceased to
scrutinise his improvements, "I'm not responsible
for Lady Catherine," she said and smoothed the nice
back of the green leather book. "She's gone."
It seemed to dawn upon Mr. Sempack that he was
forgetting his manners. He had stood in f rant ^ of
her without the slightest intention of staying beside
hen Now he gave one last reproachful glance down
the hill towards the paths, terraces, lawns, windows
and turrets where Lady Catherine ought to have been
waiting for him, and then came slowly and sat down
beside his hostess. The first exhilaration of his bear-
ing had already to a large extent evaporated.
"Forgive me," he said. "I quite expected to find
Lady Catherine here. We had a sort of argument
together. It had excited me. But, as you say, she
has gone. And the American gentleman with the
hyphenated name? Who had an effect of being man-
icured all over. What was he called? Mr. Plantag-
"Went this morning. To Torre Pellice above
"And Miss Fenimore?"
"Is with us still."
"I'm so surprised she's gone. You see I don't
attach any great importance to this General Strike
in England. So that I can't imagine any one going
off a woman particularly. ... I may be mis-
"It has stopped all the English newspapers," said
Mrs. Rylands. "And most of the English trains. It
has thrown millions of people out of employment.
There is talk of famine through the interruption of
"An acute attack of Sundays in the place of the
usual week. But why should it affect Lady Cath-
It was not Mrs. Rylands 5 business to answer that.
"Are you sure she went on account of the, .Gen-
Mrs. Rylands had serious thoughts of losing her
temper. "That was the reason she gave/ 5 she said, in
the tone of one who loses interest in a topic. But
Mr. Sempack had a habit of pursuing his own line
of thought with a certain regardlessness for other
"She may have gone to demonstrate her point of
view in our argument/ 3 he surmised. Mrs. Rylands,
being in better possession of the facts, thought it a
very foolish surmise but she offered no comment.
. "The matter at issue between us," said Mr. Sem-
pack, prodding up the pathway with the stout stick,
"had of course, extraordinarily far-reaching implica-
tions. Reduced to its simplest terms it was this, Is
the current surface of things a rational reality?"
Mrs. Rylands wanted to laugh. She regarded
Mr. Sempack's profile, gravely intent on spoiling her
excellent path. She was filled with woman's in-
stinctive pity for man. Every man is a moody child,
she thought, every man in the world. But the chil-
dren must not be spoilt. "So that was why you went
off for a walking tour?" she remarked, intelligently.
"I thought we both needed to think over our dif-
ferences," he said.
"And you still don't think what is it? that the
current surface of things is whatever it is?"
"No," he said and excavated a quite large chunk of
earth and smashed it to sandy fragments in front of
his boots. "But I suppose this flight to England is
to show me that the issues between us are not false
issues but real, and that while I dream and theorise,
she can play a part. . . . I wish she hadn't gone.
There is nothing happening in England at all that
is not perfectly preposterous. Utterly preposterous.
Political life in England becomes more and more
He shrugged his shoulders. The large tie became
a little askew. "Carnival without a police. Well
that is political life everywhere nowadays. . . ."
As this was manifestly not the subject under dis-
cussion between them a silence of perhaps half a min-
ute supervened. Then Mr. Sempack bestirred him-
"She has gone/ 5 he said, "just because she likes
Carnival. And that is the truth of the matter."
He glanced sideways at his hostess as if he hoped
she would contradict him.
But she did nothing of the sort. She reflected and
bore her witness with a considered effect. "Mr.
Sempack," she said, "I know Catherine. And that is
the truth of the matter."
"I thought it was."
His bones did move about under his skin, because
they were doing so now. He dug industriously at
the path through another long silence. "Forgive my
moodiness and my rudeness. And my confidences.
My almost involuntary confidences. As you know
perfectly well already, I am in the ridiculous posi-
tion of having fallen in love with Lady Catherine j
and it isn't any the less disorganising for being utterly
absurd. It has made me, I perceive, absurd. To
fall in love, as I have done, is to reverberate melo-
drama. It is as unreal as an opium dream and one
knows it is unreal. Yet one clings with a certain
obstinacy. ... I expected Heaven knows what
I expected! But that is no reason, is it? why I should
come and set myself down here and interrupt your
writing in that extremely pretty book of yours and
dig large holes in your path."
"The paths were made for man and not man for
the paths/' said Mrs. Rylands. "I wish all my
gardeners worked as you have done for the last few
minutes. I am sorry for what has happened. Cath-
erine is one of those people who ought not to be
allowed about loose."
"I may go to England/* he said after he had di-
gested that. "I am preposterously dislocated. I
do not know what to do."
"But in England, won't the melodrama lie in wait
"Perhaps, I wish it would. At present, my mind
and my thoughts are just swirling about. I can't
go on writing. I might of course go into Italy."
"Meanwhile stay here. For a day or so anyhow.
There are all sorts of things I would like to hear
you talk about. If you could talk about them. And
this garden has a place for almost any mood. No
one shall worry you. If I dared I would ask you
about a score of things that perplex me."
"You are very kind to suffer me," he said.
She shook her head and smiled and then stood up.
"I think you have done enough to my path this
morning," she said. "Look at it!"
He made some clumsy and ineffective attempts to
repair the mischief of his immense hands with his
immense feet, and then came hurrying after her down
f" I ^HAT evening after dinner they sat in the
I great room upstairs before a fire of logs in
-* the Italianate fire-place, and Mr. Sempack
without any allusion whatever to Lady Catherine
talked about Thought and Action and the change of
tempo as well as of scale that was coming upon hu-
man concerns. Mrs. Rylands lay on the big sofa
and Mr. Sempack occupied an armchair beside her,
Miss Fenimore assisted at the conversation on the
other side of the fire-place. She played also a slow
difficult patterning patience on a card table with two
packs of cards, a patience that kept her lips moving,
not always inaudibly with, "Black Knave goes on
Queen and red ten on Knave, but what then? All
these come up, nine, eight, seven, but does that free a
space? Won't do. Won't do. ? '
She had excused herself for her patience. "I can
hear just as well," she said, "and it seems to steady
my attention. I don't think I miss the least little
thing you say.' ?
Sometimes her patience kept her quite busy and
sometimes she would leave It alone and just sit back
with the residue of her deck in hand and take a
long deep swig of whatever Mr. Sempack was say-
ing. Then she would sigh and resume her attack
on her cards, visibly refreshed.
Although Mr. Sempack never made the ghost of
an allusion to Lady Catherine, it was quite plain to
Mrs. Rylands that the gist of his talks with that lady
lay under the rambling discourse like bones beneath
the contours of a limb* When he talked of the
HASTE AND THE LONG VIEW
greater importance of the man of science to the poli-
tician, he was really exonerating himself from her
charge of political impotence and insignificance, and
when he declared that with the abolition of distance
through the increasing ease of communication in the
world, there had come such an enlargement and
complication of political issues that they could no
longer be dealt with dramatically in a day or a week,
she felt that he was still trying to disabuse Lady
Catherine from her delusion that decisive incidents
at elections, scenes in the House and displays of
"personality" at Cabinet meetings could have any
real influence any longer upon the course of human
affairs. He talked casually and indolently as things
came into his head, but Mrs. Rylands perceived that
the green leather book would profit considerably by
the things he was saying.
His remarks joined on very directly to that earlier
talk, that successful social evening, that had so
pleased her, that renewal of the legendary glories of
the Souls and it was still not a fortnight ago! He
revived the vision of a greater civilisation ahead, a
world civilisation, in which the pursuit of science
would be the chief industry and increasing power an
annual crop. That vision had a little faded from
Mrs. Rylands 5 mind. He restored it to probability
and even to imminence. It became reality again and
all the social and political conflicts of to-day mere
temporary disorders, like battles and contests of
hobbledehoys amidst advertisement-covered hoard-
ings on the vacant site of some great building. War
became a declining habit that mankind was shaking
off. And those troubles in England were no more
than a legacy of barbaric methods that would still
win coal by hand labour and make a private profit
out of a common necessity. Some day we should win
our coal out of the earth in so different a fashion
that there would be neither myriads of dingy toilers
nor groups of owners concerned with it at all, and
from the point of view of the larger issue therefore,
the dispute between them was a false issue that led
nowhere and settled nothing at all. Even as they
disputed the grounds of the differences were dis-
solving under their feet.
But there were certain things that the green
leather book would want to know to-morrow morn-
ing and Mrs. Rylands sought elucidation.
"I see the world could be changed, ought to be
changed, from all its present confusions/ 7 she agreed.
"Things do not change themselves. Much of this
progress so far has taken people by surprise. Now
the surprise is over and we see the steps, the enor-
mous steps that have to be made, if we are to pass
from this this complex muddle of affairs to the
world civilisation. You speak as though that would
certainly be brought about. But who are the peo-
ple who are bringing it about ?"
"The scientific minded people," said Mr. Sempack.
"The people who think ahead."
"I see that people of that sort are adding to the
vision of the great age coming, filling in details,
helping our imaginations to smooth over difficulties.
You alone have done wonderful things to make the
prospectus credible. But it is still only a prospectus.
Are people taking shares? Are any of these people
who talk and wish so well, doing anything to bring
the World Utopia about?"
HASTE AND THE LONG VIEW
"I think, yes," said Mr. Sempack after a slight
She felt she was pressing him, but she wanted to
know. "How? " she asked.
"By making it increasingly evident that it is pos-
sible and bringing people to realise that it is desir-
able a refuge from the vast dangers that threaten
us all, while with the immensely powerful weapons
of to-day we stick to antiquated moral and social
traditions. 5 '
"Yes, but " said Mrs. Rylands.
She gathered all her forces. She wasn't trying
to argue with him but she did want to be able to
face the candid pages of the green leather book to-
morrow without any inconvenient queries arising
finished and sure in what she had to write. She had
to write it as plainly as she could and then she had
to copy out her exercise and send it to her fellow
student Philip, who would be, she felt certain, quite
wonderful at jabbing in destructive questions.
"You see, Mr. Sempack, this is my difficulty. I
see the world abounding in projects for doing things
better. People who write about that sort of thing
write about it and we read it when we are in the
reading mood and want our imaginations stirring.
But the mass of people just go on. I suppose that
if you told all that you are telling me to a miner
and said that there were to be no miners at all in
the new world, but only very clever boring machines,
and ways of taking air into the pit to burn the coal
and make power there instead of digging it out and
so on, I doubt if he would be ready to bring the
change about. He would think of himself and say
that though it was bad enough to be an underpaid
miner, perhaps not employed too regularly, but still
getting a sort of living, it might be worse to be in
a world where he wasn't wanted at all."
"He could be changed."
"Not all at once. He'd have his missus and the
kids and his dog and his habits. Would he want to
be changed? Changed I mean in his nature, as you
would change him. More money perhaps he would
like and a rather better house. But what more?
And take the mine-owner: you can't expect him to
welcome and help his own abolition."
"The new things will come gradually enough to
smooth over that sort of thing."
"If somebody wants them. But who is going to
want them? I'm asking, because I really want to
know, Mr. Sempack, who is going to want them
enough to take a lot of pains to bring them about?
Many of us no doubt want them vaguely and gen-
erally but do any of us want them particularly and
fiercely enough to get them past the awkward turns
and difficult corners?"
"They involve the clear promise of an ampler
"I don't worry you with my persistent questions?
They are silly questions, I know, but they puzzle
"Not a bit silly. You argue very closely. Go on."
"Well, this clear promise of an ampler life.
Suppose you said to a cat, 'Come, I will teach you to
swim and dive like a seal and fly like a bat/ and so
on, if only you will stop catching the songbirds in
,my garden/ and suppose the cat were so say, *Lif e is
short. It is fun to think of such things and they
make me yearn to leave the little birds alone and
HASTE AND THE LONG VIEW
eat fish, but all the same this means a frightful
change in my habits. I might prove less adaptable
than you suppose. I might die before I adapted, I
do get along fairly well as it is. Have you ever seen
me go up a tree? Or jump and catch a young
nestling in the air? Do you mind if I just go on
being a cat? 7W
Mr. Sempack nodded and smiled thoughtfully at
the fire and left his hostess free to continue.
"All the sorts of people I see about me, all the
soldiers we know for example; they are most liberal-
minded about war I find and about the League of
Nations and that sort of thing, provided there is no
serious interference with soldiering."
"They will get most horribly gassed ia the next
"They hope to gas first* But even if they think
the outlook a little unpleasant in that way, they still
have no idea of how they are going to change over*
Or what they are going to change into. And mean-
while meanwhile they go on being soldiers."
"They will be changed over/ 7 said Mr. Sempack
"But who will change them over? Directly one
goes out of a talk like this back into one's everyday
life, one finds every one more or less in the same
position doing something in the present system,
hanging on to it, dreading dislocation, objecting to
any improvement that really touches them. But
otherwise quite liberal-minded and progressive. 5 '
"The forces of change will override them.
Change of conditions is incessant 5 '
"But change may go any way, Mr. Sempack-
There is no one steering change. Why shouldn't it
go hither and thither? It raises up; it may cast
"Why not?" asked Mr. Sempack of the flaring
"We may 'meanwhile* for ever. People may be
driven this way and that. Some may go down and
some up. Old types may vanish and new ones come.
Some of that may be progress but some of that may
be loss. Nature gives no real guarantee. Change
may go on until men are blue things three feet
high and rats hunt them as we hunt rats and your
great civilisation may never arrive never arrive at
all. It may have loomed up and receded and loomed
up again and been talked about again as you talk
about it, and then things may have slipped back and
slipped back more and gone on slipping back. And
the rats may have got bolder and the disease germs
more dwarfing and crippling, and energy may have
"Touche/ J said Mr. Sempack and paused tre-
Mrs, Rylands adjusted a cushion and regarded
him expectantly before lying back more comfortably.
"It's come out," said Miss Fenimore and made a
great triumphant scrabbling with her cards. "They
don't often come out."
"That is precisely the question that occupies my
mind nowadays dominantly," said Mr. Sempack,
disregarding Miss Fenimore. "My life has been so
largely given to thought and the project . . . After
all, all this constructive Utopianism is a growth of
very recent years. . . . But I do see that a time
comes anc l i n the case of these matters the time
may be here already when these creative ideas must
HASTE AND THE LONG VIEW
come down Into the market place, among the hawk-
ers and the cheats and the Carnival maskers, and
fight to impose themselves. Science can never be
really pure science. Science sprang from practical
curiosities and justifies and refreshes itself by prac-
tical applications. Yet it must go apart to work out
its riddles. There is a rhythm in these things.
Thought must be neither too close nor too aloof from
actuality. There has been a need in the past cen-
tury to take social and economic generalisations a lit-
tle way off from current politics and active business
and work them out into a new, broader, deeper, mod-
ern project. That in its main lines is done. Now,
we, who have gone apart, have to come back. We
have got clear to the conception of a possible world
peace, a world economic system, a common currency,
and unparalleled freedoms, growths and liber-
ties. * . .**
"Yes?" said Mrs. Rylands.
"We have at last made it seem extremely credible
"And how to get there? remains still with hardly
the barest rudiments of an answer. A League of
Nations. Vague projects of social revolution. Pious
intentions. Practical futility. 35
"And meanwhilel" whispered Mrs. Rylands.
"I do not even know whether the same type of
mind that has mastered the first can work out the
second problem. Perhaps there is a difference of
personality needed, just as there is perhaps a differ-
ence between the pure scientific man and the scientific
commercial man. It may be because I am realising
that this business is entering upon a new phase that
I find I am writing freely no longer and that I am
restless and attracted by unseasonable hankerings for
experience and at last I confess it disposed to go
back to look into these queer troubles in England.
I have had a dream, a ridiculous dream, of being re-
vitalised. The Sacred Fount of passion. 35
He seemed to remember the presence of Miss Fen-
imore and abandoned what might have become a
a l do not know. I do not know whether men of
my kind have to turn into men of action or whether
they have to turn over all they have thought-out and
worked-out to men of action. A young man like
your Philip attracts me, just because he seems to
have all the vigour, flexibility and aggressiveness,
that my type of withdrawn, persistently sceptical,
habitually sceptical enquirer, does not possess. I do
not know. I wish I did. And there you are! I am
afraid I have left that question of yours, Mrs. Ry-
lands, very largely open."
He seemed to have finished and then he resumed.
"It may be that this concrete conception of human
progress awaits its philosophy and its religion. Idea
must clothe itself in will. The new civilisation will
call for devotion something more than the devo-
tion of thinking and writing at one's leisure. It may
need martyrs as well as recluses. And leaders as
well as prophets. It will call for co-operative action,
for wide disciplines. . . ."
He stood up before the fire, a great shambling
figure that cast a huge caricature in shadow on the
"I think I will go back to England in a day or
so anyhow if only to see why people can struggle
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
with such courage and passion for ends that do not
seem to me to have any real relation to the Civilisa-
tion of the World at all. Hitherto I have been
thinking so much of what I am after myself that it
may be good for me, for a change, just to find out
what other people are after* And why none of
them seem to be after the only thing that I think
makes life worth living.
"Yes," he reflected, "make your World Civilisa-
tion. That is just what Lady Catherine told me.
You, with your questions, repeat the challenge. . . .
I wonder if at bottom, Mrs. Rylands, both the scien-
tific investigator and the philosopher are not pro-
foundly indolent men. They work I admit they
work continuously but how they fortify them-
selves against interruptions and counter strokes and
irrelevant issues ! "
His thoughts seemed to Mrs. Rylands to glance
suddenly in a different direction. "Essentially" he
said, "they must be celibate. . . "
Mr. Sempack had come to the end of his medita-
tions. His hostess and Miss Fenimore wished him
good-night. He was left to consume two glasses
of barley water and put out the lights..
PHILIP'S "first real letter," so he called it,
came on the day of Mr. Sempack's departure
for England. There had been an "arrived
safe" telegram from London and a pencil scrawl of
affectionate "rubbidge," so he put it, with various
endearments and secret and particular names, that he
had posted in Paris. That was just carrying on.
But this she felt was something momentous. It
came while she was resting on her bed, through sheer
laziness, and she felt its importance so much that for
a time she could not open it. It was a fat letter, a
full letter, it was over the two ounces,, fivepence
ha'penny worth of letter, and inside there was going
to be something something she had never had be-
forePhilip mentally, all out, according to his
promise. She was going to learn fresh and impor-
tant things about him. She was going to scrutinise
his mental quality as she had never done before.
What sort of a letter was it going to be?^ She
had a shadow of fear in her mind. Things said can
be forgotten. Or you recall the manner and edit
and rearrange the not too happy words. Things
written hammer at the eye and repeat themselves in-
exorably. Written clumsiness becomes monstrous
clumsy. So far she had never had anything more
from Philip than a note. His notes were good, queer
in their phrasing but with an odd way of conveying
tenderness. . . . Philip would be Philip. She took
courage and tore open the distended envelope.
She found half a dozen fascicles each pinned to-
gether. It was neither like a letter nor like a proper
manuscript, but it was like Philip. The paper was
of various sorts, some of it from their house in South
Street, some from the Reform Club, some from
Brooks' and some ruled foolscap of unknown origin
carefully torn into half -sheets so as to pack com-
fortably with the spread out notepaper. Somewhere
he had got hold of a blue pencil and numbered the
fascicles with large numbers, one, two, three and so
forth, emphasised by a circle. The fascicle numbered
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
"General Instructions -for a little Cynner to read
these Lubrications ?*
Then this touching design and appeal:
a My dearest Cynthia, wife/ 5 it went on, "I find it
pretty hard to set down all my impressions o things
here. Which is all the more reason I suppose why I
should begin to set down my impressions. It ? s hard
to make It go, one, two, three, and away. I just can't
make the stuff I have to tell you flow off my pen as
trained chaps like old Sempack seems able to do.
Whatever he has to say seems to begin at one place
and go right through to an end, missing nothing by
the way. Pve been reading In some of his books.
In fact Pve been reading him no end. People talk
about 'writing' and Pve always thought before it
meant purple patches and lovely words, but this
sort of thing also is writing5 driving ten topics in a
team together and getting somewhere, getting
through doors and narrow places and home to where
you want to go. I seem to begin at half a dozen
places and it is, only after a time that one finds that
this joins up with that. I've made half a dozen
starts and here most of them are.
"This is a sort of student's note-book. I've helped
it out with diagrams and here and there pictures
seem to have got themselves in when I wasn't look-
ing. But it is a multiplex affair here. Here in Eng-
land I mean not in this letter. An imbrolio. It
isn't a straight story. You take Part numbered Two
and then Three and so on in the order of the num-
bers, and I think at the end you'll get the hang of
what I'm thinking all right. Forgive some of the
spelling, and all the heavy lumpish way of putting
things. If I do much of this sort of thing I shall
have to take lessons from Sempack and Bertrand
Russell, how to be clear if complex. As you said,
we've got to know each other even if it hurts. So
I've done my best. I don't think I've struck any
"If you despise me over this stuff well, it had to
be. Better than not knowing each other. Better
than that. Truly. Dear Cynthia, my Friend. All
you said to me about being truly near, mind more
than body, went to my heart. Both."
That was the substance of Part One. Followed a
sort of index and a few remarks about each part, that
were simply preparatory matter. Rather business-
like preparatory matter. He must have written that
index after all the rest was done.
She held Part One in her hand and thought for
some moments. Queer! This wasn't her Philip ;
the Philip she had known for a wonderful year.
But it was not inharmonious with her Philip. It was
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
an extension of him, the wider Philip. It was
at once a little strange and more intimate. It was
very honest j that was the first thing about It. And
it had a quality of strength. It was extraordinary
that a man who had been as close to her as he had
been, with such warmth and laughter and delight,
should still betray so plainly a maidenly bashf ulness
over the nakedness of his prose and the poverty of
his spelling. Bodies one can strip in half a minute.
Now and he knew it he was revealing his mind.
And then the drawing. She had never suspected
him of skill, but there was skill in the way he got
what he wanted to express over to her. The figure of
himself, a little oafish and anxious. And herself.
He didn't spare her littleness. And yet plainly he
couldn't draw as she judged drawing. There were
several other drawings. . . *
She glanced at Part Three. But these looked more
like the figures one scribbles on blotting paper. Per-
haps it would be plainer when she came to them in
She took up Part Two which was entitled:
"General Observations on the General Strike.
"Firstly I am disposed to call this General Strike
the Silliest Thing in the History of England. I
Hon't know whether I would stick to that. What
old Muzzleton used to get red in the nose working
us up about, what he used to call 'Our Island Story/
is full of dam silly things. But this is a monstrous
dam silly affair, my Cynthia. It is a tangle of false
issues from beginning to end. So silly one can't take
sides. One is left gibbering helplessly as the silly
affair unrolls itself.
"Imagine a procession of armoured cars and tanks
going through the dear old East End o London to
protect vans of food-stuffs nobody has the least idea
of touching. After the strikers have guaranteed a
food supply! A sort of Lord Mayor's day crowd
of sightseers and chaps like old Bullace in tin helmets
you know, helmets against shrapnel! ! stern and
solum. If presently they began to throw pots of
shrapnel out of the East End top windows, old Bui-
lace's little bit of brains will be as safe as saf e.
"Then imagine a labour movement which imagines
it is appealing to the general public against the gov-
erment. Which nevertheless has called out all the
printers and stopped the newspapers! As the gov-
erment has seized its own one paper, I mean the
labour paper, and monopolises, the goverment does,
the wireless, the labour movement is making its
appeal inaudilly. As a consequence that side of the
dispute has become almost invisible. You see police
and soldiers and all that, but all you see or hear of
the strike side is that it isn't there. The engineers
and the railway men and the printers aren't there.
Just a bit of speaking at a corner or a handbill put
In your hand. Pickets lurking. A gap. Silence.^
Mrs. Rylands pulled up abruptly, went back from
the beginnings of the next sentence, scrutinised a
word. It was "goverment." And down the sheet
and over, she found it repeated. And what did it
matter If he did take the "n" out of government, so
long as his head was clear?
"The strike stopped all the buses, trams, trains,
etc., etc. The streets are full morning and evening
of a quite cheerful (so far) crowd of clerks, shop
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
people and suchlike walking to business or walking
home, getting casual pick-ups from passing motor
cars. General disposition to treat it as a lark. Thanks
chiefly to the weather. Most buses are off the
streets. Some are being run by volunteers and they
go anyhow, anywhere and anybody rides. They get
their windows broken a bit and there is often a bobby
by the driver. Some have wire over their windows
and one or two I saw with a motor car full of special
constables going in front of them. Convoy. There
is a story of some being burnt but I can't find out if
that is true. The voice of the gearbox is heard in the
land and the young gentlemen volunteers don't
bother much about collecting fares. For some un-
known reason most of them have come to the job in
plus fours. Pirate buses having the time of their
lives. Disposition of crowds to collect at central
positions and stand about and stare. Police and
soldiers in quantity lurking darkly up back streets,
ready aye ready for trouble that never comes, and
feeling I think rather fools. They seem uneasy
when you go and look at them. What are they all
waiting for? They 5 ve sworn-in quantities of special
constables and Pve had a row with Uncle Robert on
that score, because I won't be sworn-in and set an
example. All his men-servants have been sworn-in
and are on the streets with armlets and truncheons.
The specials just walk about, trying to avoid being
followed by little boysj harmless earnest i^iiddle-
class chaps they are for the most part.
"As might be expected Winston has gone clean
off his head. He hasn't been as happy since he
crawled on his belly and helped snipe in Sidney
Street. Whatever any one else may think. Winston
believes he is fighting a tremendous revolution and
holding it down, fist and jaw. He careers about
staring, inactive, gaping, crowded London, looking
for barricades. I wish I could throw one up for
In the margin Mr. Philip had eked out his prose
with a second illustration.
"The goverment has taken over the Morning Post
office and machinery and made Winston edit a sort
of emergency government rag called the British Ga-
zette. Baldwin's idea seems to be to get the little
devil as far away from machine guns as possible
and keep him busy. Considerable task. His paper
is the most lop-sided rag you ever. It would be a
disgrace to any goverment. The first number is
all for the suppression of Trade Unions, a most
desperate attempt to provoke them to the fighting
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
a l met Mornington at the Club5 he is mixed up
with the Morning Post somehow and he says the
office is simply congested with young Tories who
have fancied themselves as writers for years. For
them it's perfect Heaven. They've collared most
of the Morning Post paper j they are grabbing all
The Times paper $ro bono Winstono. The Times
still puts out a little sheet but they say it will have
to stop in a week or ten days in favour of Win-
ston's splutter. That seems to me nearly the maddest
thing of all. The Labour people have had their own
Daily Herald, suppressed. Instead they are trying
and failing to go a peg below Winston with a sort of
bulletin newsheet called the British Worker. But
Winston has a scheme for stealing their paper sup-
ply, raiding their office and breaking them up in the
name of the British Constitution. Like undergrad-
uates at election time. Isn't it all bottomlessly silly?
Most of the papers seem to be handing out some-
thing, a half-sheet or suchlike just to say c jack's
alive/ and you happen upon it and buy it by chance.
Fellows try and sell you typewritten stuflE with the
latest from the broadcasting for sixpence or a shil-
ling, and here and there you see bulletins stuck up
outside churches and town halls. In the west end
they display Winston's British Gazette in the smart
shop windows. I suppose their plate glass insurance
covers risks like that. But perhaps they realise there
isn't much risk.
"I just go along the streets talking to people in
the character of an intelligent young man from New
Zealand. I say I don't rightly understand what the
strike is about and ask them to explain. I get a dif-
ferent story each time. 'Who is striking? 3 c Oh! 5
they say, 'It's a general strike! 5 c Are you?' I ask.
<No fear!' Some of them say it is in sympathy with
the miners. But they never know the rights and
wrongs about the miners. Very few of them know
if the miners have struck or whether it is a lock-
out. They don't know which is the pig-headest, the
miners or the mine-owners, and yet you'd think they
would be curious about that. And the whole country
is disorganised, no papers, no trains, no trams, and,
this morning, no taxis. Post offices are still going on,
but the labour people talk of bringing out what they
call their second line. That will stop letters, tele-
grams, gas and electric light and power, it seems. If
the second line really comes out which Hind says is
rather doubtful. So if I am swallowed up by silence
all of a sudden you will know it is the second line
you have to blame. Unless Winston happens to
have got hold of a machine gun and shot me sud-
denly in the back.
"But I don't think that will happen while he has
ink and paper. Don't you worry about that.
"Well, there's some features of this General
Strike. Not a bit like a revolution. Far mpre as if
a new sort of day not quite a weekday and not quite
a Good Friday had happened. I don't know whether
what I have told you will make any sort of picture
for you. There are foreign reporters in London and
probably you will get it in the French papers or
the Paris edition of the New York Herald. The es-
sence of it is, miners locked out, transport workers of
all sorts striking, printers striking, Winston prob-
ably certifiable but no doctors can get near him to do
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
it, soldiers and police going about with loaded guns
looking for a Revolution that isn't there, Jix incit-
ing the police to be violent at the least provocation,
and the general public, like me, agape. All London
agape. And over it all this for a Prime Minister:
"Here endeth Part Two."
The third fascicle was headed:
"What Labour thinks it is doing.
"Here, my dear Cynthia, 1 am going to set down
what I can make out of how this strike came about.
It is a queer history, but you can check it back and
fill it out in details by the newspaper files I marked
for you before I left Casa Terragena. This muddle
has been tangling itself up for years. These are
matters the Rylands family, branch as well as root
(which is for current purposes Uncle Robert) ought
to have some ideas about.
"Af ter the war, you must understand, to go back
to beginnings. Great Britain had a boom time for
coal. It had a little boom in 1919. Then there was
dislocation and trouble turning on de-control after
the war and bringing men back from the army,
problems of men taken on and so on. There was a
Royal Commission and a very startling report called
the Sankey Report, pointing out how wastefully
British coal was won and proposing "Nationalisa-
tion/' and that was followed by a strike I think the
year after. But it was possible to fix fairly good
wages for the men just then. All Europe wanted
coal, the French coal regions were all devastated
area and Poincare danced into the Ruhr and put that
supply out of gear too. English coal prices mounted,
wages mounted, we got in thousands of fresh miners
from the agricultural workers over and above the
war drift to the mines. There was a time when
coal stood at 4. a ton. I mean we were selling it at
that. Not for long of course. Even when it fell
back below 4O/- it was still a big price for us. Ex-
ports rose to huge figures. The miners and the coal-
owners purred together and nobody bothered about
Sankey and nationalisation. Say the top of '23.
"Then we deflated the pound, and also continental
coal-winning began to recover.
"By 1924 the slump was plain in the sight to all
men. Coal prices couldn't be kept at the old level.
There was trouble about wages in 1924 and a new
arrangement which we owners dropped last yean
Time, said the coal-owners, to take in sail. Naturally
they kept mum about the stuff they'd put away dur-
ing the boom years. Merely 'business 5 to do that.
They just looked round for some one else to make
up the current deficit, John Taxpayer was called
upon, and Baldwin (a bit of a coal-owner himself)
made him fork out the Coal Subsidy until he would
stand it no longer. Then the coal-owners made
what seemed to them the reasonable proposal that
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
the miners should take lower wages not a small re-
duction but a drop o twenty per cent., one shilling
in five work longer hours and (though this wasn't
clearly stated) a lot of them become unemployed.
Obviously longer hours means fewer men.
"The reply of the miners was a most emphatic
No. I sympathise. Though as a rational creature
I see that there are now more miners in Britain than
can ever be employed at the boom rates or perhaps
at any rates again, I see also how the miners who
have settled down on the high rates feel about it.
Their main representative is a man named Cook and
he says c Not a penny off the pay j not a second on the
day.' If I had to live like a miner I should say the
same. I'd rather die than come down below the
present level. I have just happened upon a little
book called Eaimgden by a man named Sinclair and
it gives a flat, straightforward account of the life of
a miner. I half suspect some connexion between
Easingden and Edensoke, but never mind that. No
frills about his story and to the best of my knowledge
and belief dead true. It's a grimy nightmare of a
life, I am going to send it to you. When you read
it^ you will agree with me that it is intolerable to
think of Englishmen many of whom fought in the
Great War to save me and you among others from
the Hun having to go a single step lower than that
cramped, sordid, hopeless drudgery. Let the coal-
owner, who didn't foresee, who failed to reorganise
on modern lines in his boom days, who has got a tidy
pile stowed away, let him pay the racket now and
not take it out of the flesh and blood of the people.
"That's what the miner feels and partly thinks.
The hoards of the successf ul, he thinks, ought to be
the elastic pads we fall back upon in a squeeze j not
the living bodies of the miners and their families.
"The miners never professed to organise business
and make reserves^ they thought the clever fellows
were seeing to that. Their job was to hew coal.
They say they didn't suppose the clever fellows were
just out to get away with profits and leave them in
the lurch. So that a lot of them now are feeling de-
cidedly Communist and would like to go out and hew
at the clever fellows. I should^ Cynthia 5 if I were a
"The new Coal Commission although it is all
Herbert Samuels and business men and not a Justice
Sankey upon it and no one to speak for the miners,
admits a lot of reasonableness in the miners* case.
But the coal-owners say in effect^ *Not a penny out
of our hoards, not a shadow of sacrifice from ttsl*
They propose to knock wages down to the tune of a
shilling in five and practically don't offer to bear any
equivalent hardship on their own part. I had it out
or partly had it out with Uncle Robert last night.
'Partly/ because he got so obviously cross that my
natural respect for the head of the family made me
shut up. He was all for the unreasonableness of
the miners in not making any concessions. Stern
and dignified and rude. Wouldn't say what was to
be done with the miners who will have to be laid off
whatever concessions the poor devils make. The
more concessions they make in hours, the more will
get laid off. He wouldn't say whether the shilling
in five was his last word or not. And he got really
vicious on the subject of Cook.
" c At present/ said his lordship, c all discussion is
in abeyance. The whole social order has been struck
PHILIP'S PIRST REAL LETTER
at and ias to be defended* Repeated it Raised
Ills hand with an air o finality.
^Baldwin and Co just went from, one party to tlie
other, pulling long faces or pretending to wring
their hands Pve got something to say about that
and repeating., *Do please be reasonable/ instead of
taking us coal-owners by the scruff of the neck as
they should have done and saying c Share the loss like
decent men? If the coal-owners won't give way,
said Baldwin and Co in effect,, then the miners must.
Nothing was done. The coal-owners simply de-
manded lower wages and more work and prepared
for a general lock-out if the miners didn't knuckle
under. And that is how things were between the
coal-owners and the miners.
cc la a country that had honest newspapers and
clear heads all this would have brought such a storm
about the ears of the coal-owners that they would
have met the men half-way three quarters of the
way, in a hurry. They would have sat up all night
sweating apologies and drawing up more and more
generous schemes to ease off the situation. And the
public would have insisted on the deal. But the
country never got the story plain and clear. How
could it judge?
"Now here it is the General Council of the Trade
Unions comes in. The miners are a part of that and
have raised this coal puzzle at the Congress of the
Trade Unions for the last two years. The General
Council of the Trade Unions declares, and I myself
think rightly, that the attack to reduce the miners is
only a preliminary to a general reduction, railway
men, engineers, industrials of all sorts. Common
cause. So the T.U.C. takes a hand and you get a sort
of four-cornered game, (i) T.U.C., (2) miners
(Cook very vocal, too vocal), (3) government and
(4) owners, (i) and (2) are theoretically part-
ners: (3) and (4) profess not to be but I am afraid
are. If the miners are locked out, if nothing is done,
then says the T.U.C. we shall have to call out the
railwaymen, transport workers, engineers, postal em-
ployees and so forth and so on. 'That,' says the
goverment, 'is a general strike. It isn't an industrial
dispute; it's politics. It's an attack on the goverment
of the land.' Says the T.U.C,, 'Damn you! Why
don't you be the goverment of the land? We aren't
going to let the miners be downed in this fashion,
politics or not. Something has to be done. We don't
want a strike of this sort but if there is a miners'
lock-out, some such strike there will have to be.'
"But the T.U.C. wasn't very resolute about all
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
that. That's & nasty point in my story. Not the
only one. They backed up the miners but they didn't
quite back them up. Several of the Labour Leaders,
chaps of the court suit and evening dress type, were
running about London, weeks and weeks ago, wring-
ing their hands and saying, 'The extremists are
forcing our hands. We don't want the general
strike. We're perfectly peaceful snobs on the make.
We are indeed. It's an attempt at revolution j we
admit it. Do something even if it only looks like
something.' Mornington met two of them. Those
were practically their words. They started out upon
a series of conferences with the goverment. Con-
ferences and more conferences. Suggestions,
schemes. Running to and fro T.U.G at Downing
Street. T.U.C. goes to the miners. To and fro.
Talk about the Eleventh Hour. But in England
nobody ever believes there is an Eleventh Hour until
it comes. Like the war. Cook going on all the time
like a musical box that can't leave off: *Not a penny
off the pay, not a second on the day.' Twenty
speeches a day and still at it in his sleep.
"My dear, I don't know if you will make head or
tail of this rigmarole so far. I set it down as well
as I can. But try and get that situation clear which
brings things up to last week-end. Miners, inflexible}
owners, inflexible} Goverment ambiguous, T.U.C.
forcible feeble, rather warning about the General
Strike than promising it. And doing nothing hard
and strong to prepare for it. Under-prepared while
the goverment was over-prepared.
"And here I must conclude by Part Three because
I have already been writing about the next stage in
Part Four. Go on to Part number Four."
Mrs. Rylands did.
Part Four was headed:
"The Goverment isn't flaying straight**
"Here little Cynna comes the stuff that troubles
my mind most. I don't think Baldwin and his gover-
ment have played a straight game. I don't think the
miners and the rank and file of the workers are get-
ting a square deal. I think that Baldwin and Co are
consciously or subconsciously on the side of the coal-
owner and the profit extractor, and that they mean to
let the workers down. They are making an Asset of
Cook and his not listening to reason. Fve had that
smell in my nose for some time. Even at Casa Ter-
ragena. Churchill's first number of the British Ga-
zette stank of it. Gave the whole thing away.
"They didn't want to prevent a General Strike.
They wanted it to happen. They wanted it to hap-
pen so as to distract attention from the plain justice
of the case as between miners and coal-owners. And
between workers generally and employers and busi-
ness speculators generally, in a world of relative
shrinkage. They wanted the chance of a false issue,
to readjust with labour nearer the poverty line.
"You may say that is a serious charge to make
against any goverment. But consider the facts.
Consider what happened last Sunday night Prob-
ably you haven't got the facts of Sunday night over
there yet It's the ugliest, most inexplicable night
in the record of our quiet little Baldwin. If after
all there does happen to be a Last Judgment, Master
Stanley will be put through it hard and good about
Sunday May 2nd. Or to be more exact, Monday
May 3rd. Tut that pipe down Sir, 5 the great flaming
Angel will say, 'We want to see your face. 3
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
"We shall all want to see his face.
"What happened was this. The Trade Union
leaders were haggling and conferring between the
miners and the cabinet all Sunday and they really
seemed to be getting to a delaying compromise, and
something like a deal. If the goverment really
meant to make a deal. Late in the night the trade
Union leaders at Downing Street, had hammered out
some sort of reply to certain cabinet proposals. They
went back to the conference room with it. And they
found the room empty and dark and the lights out,
"The goverment had thrown down the negotia-
tions. They came into a darkened room and were
told that the goyerment had gone away. Gone
"Bit dramatic that, anyhow.
"My dear, you might guess at a thousand reasons.
Some compositors at the Daily Mail had refused to
set up an anti-labour leading article! The Daily
Mail! I have never been able to understand how
the Daily Mail is able to get compositors to set up
any of its articles. But this thing I have a nasty
feeling was foreseen. The coup was prepared. It
was too clumsy, too out of proportion, to be a genuine
thing. Forthwith the cabinet hear of the Daily Mail
hitch. Remarkably quick. "It's come off,' I guess
some one said. <Get on with the break. 5 Like a shot
the cabinet responded. Like an actor answering his
cue. The goverment snatched at the excuse of that
little Daily Mail printing-office strike to throw down
the whole elaborate sham of negotiating for peace.
They called ^ the bluff of the poor old vacillating
T.U.C c This is the general strike and we are ready/
said they. Off flew Winston and the heroic set to
get busy, and Mr. Baldwin went to bed.
"The empty room. The lights put out. The
labour leaders peering into it, astonished and not a
little scared. Like sheep at the gate of a strange
field. Don't forget that picture, Cynthia.
"And since then the goverment hasn't been a gov-
erment. It's been like a party trying to win an
election. By fair means or foul. It's stifled all dis-
cussion. It's made broadcasting its call boy. It is
playing the most extraordinarily dirty tricks in shut-
ting up people and concealing facts. I've just heard
things but these I'll tell you later. And all the
rights and wrongs as between miners and coal-own-
ers have vanished into thin air. Which is what the
goverment wanted to happen. Q.E.F. as Mr.
Euclid used to say.
"That ends my fourth section. 35
Mrs. Rylands reflected for a time. Philip had
told his story well. It sounded. credible. For the
first time she seemed to be realising what this queer
business in England meant. And yet there were dif-
ficulties. She must think it over. Some of it startled
her and much that he had to say sounded excessively
uncompromising. His note was one of combatant ex-
citement. But then he was not living in the soft air
of a great Italian garden which makes everything
seem large and gentle and intricate. She must read
those marked papers downstairs. But now what else
had he to say?, Part Five was headed:
"Why 'did ike Goverment want the Strike to haf'penf
"And now, my dear wife, I want to write of some-
thing more difficult. But it's about the state of mind
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
of the sort of people to which after all we belong.
It's about more than the General Strike.
"I've been about at the Club; I lunched at the
Carlton with Silverbaumj I spent an evening with
Hind and Mornington and their crew at Hind's flat.
And more particularly I've studied the words and
proceedings of our esteemed uncle Lord Edensoke
and of our honoured and trusted partner Sir Revel
Cokeson, not to mention Mr. Guinm, the burly Brit-
ish Mr. Gumm. You remember them?
"Let me try^and get it set down, as it has come
to ^me. There is a feeling in the air that Britain is
going down. I don't mean that there is any sort of
crash in view, but that industrially and financially
she is being passed and overshadowed. She is in for
a time of relative if not of absolute shrinkage. We
may never be able to employ the same mass of skilled
and semi-skilled labour that we have done in the
^"1 am not telling you here what I believe. Never
mind what I believe. I am telling you what is in
the minds and not very far from openly showing
upon the surface of the minds of a lot of these peo-
ple. Uncle Robert practically said as much. One of
those speeches of his that begin, c My dear boy?
One of those speeches of his that seem to admit that
so far he has been lying but that now we have really
come to it. And one has been getting the same sort
of thing for a long time between the lines of such
a paper as the Morning Post. Well, here is my read-
ing of hearts. They think that there is shrinkage
and hard times ahead and they think that it is the
mass of workers who will have to bear the burthen.
Because otherwise it will fall on ourselves. Labour
in Great Britain has seen its sunniest days. That is
what they think.
"I suppose one has to face a certain loss of pre-
eminence in the world for England. I don't like it,
but I suppose we have to. We were the boss coun-
try of the Nineteenth Century and the Nineteenth
Century is over. Possibly there will not be a boss
country in the Twentieth Century. Or it may be
America. But it isn't going to be us and we have to
face up to that. That I say has got into the minds
of pretty nearly all the sort of 'protected people, es-
tablished people, go-about-the-globe people^ finan-
cial and business people, who support the present
goverment. And it takes two forms in its expression
just according as intelligent meanness or unintelli-
gent prejudice prevails in their minds.
"First Class; The intelligent mean wealthy people
of Great Britain want to shove the bigger part of
the impoverishment due to our relative shrinkage
in the world upon the workers. They want a scrap
that will cripple and discredit the Trade Unions.
Then they will reduce wages and at the same time
cut down social services and popular education. So
they will be able to go on for quite a long time as
they are now and even recover some of their invest-
ments abroad and to make these economies possi-
ble we s h a ll just breed and train cheaper and more
miserable common English people.
"But they are not the majority of their sort, this
class are not. They are just the mean left hand of
Baldwin and Co. The right hand, which is heavier
and lumpier, is able to be more honest because it is
more stupid. Let us come to them.
"Second Class; The unintelligent wealthy people
in Great Britain. The majority. On them too for
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
some time the unpleasant realisation that Great Brit-
ain is shrinking in world importance has been grow-
ing. It seems to have grown with a rush since the
coal trade began to look groggy after deflation.
Perhaps it has grown too much. But this sort cannot
accept it as the others do clearly. All ideas turn to
water and feelings in their minds. This is the sort
that disputes the plainest facts if they are disagree-
able. It is too horrible an idea for them. So it re-
mains a foreign growth in their minds. Their Em-
pire threatened! Their swagger and privileges
going! Their air of patronage to all the rest of the
world undermined! They refuse the fact.
"The more I hear our sort of people talk and see
how they are behaving over this strike, the more I
am reminded of some Gold Coast nigger who is
suffering from the first intimations of old age and
thinks he is bewitched and will get all right again if
he only finds out and kills the witch. They lie awake
at nights and hear the Empire, their Empire for
they Ve never given the working man a dog's chance
in it creaking. They think of China up, India up,
Russia not caring a damn for them and the Ameri-
cans getting patronising to the nth degree. Foreign
investments shrunken and no means of restoring
them. These people here about me, the wealthy
Tory sort of people, the chaps in the Clubs, the men
and women in the boxes and stalls and restaurants
and night clubs, the Ascot people and the gentle
jazzers, are not thinking of the rights and wrongs of
the miners and the trade union people at all, and of
fair ^play and what's a straight deal with the men.
Their attention will not rest on that. It seems un-
able to rest on that. The men are just a pawn in
their game of foreign investment. The plain story
I have told to you about the mines and the strike has
passed right under their noses and they have missed
the substance of it altogether. They have something
larger and vaguer in their minds 5 this shrinkage of
their credit as a class 5 this arrest in growth and vigour
of their Empire, the Empire of their class because
that is all it isj its loss of moral power, the steady
evaporation of its world leadership in finance and
industry; the realisation and they have it now in
their bones if not in their intelligences, even the
stupidest of them that new and greater things are
dawning upon the world. They are too ill-educated
and self-centred and consciously incompetent to ac-
cept these things fully and try to adapt themselves
to new conditions. They become puzzled and fright-
ened and quarrelsome at the bare thought of these
new conditions which threaten them with extinc-
tion or worse with education. On no terms will
they learn. That is too horrible. So they go fran-
tic. They bristle up to fight* They want a great
fight against time and fate. Before time and fate
overtake them. They dream that perhaps if there
was a tremendous scrap of some sort now, now while
they are still fairly strong, somehow at the end of it
this creeping rot, this loss of go, in all they value and
of all that makes them swagger people, would be
abolished and made an end to. It would be lost in
the uproar and at the end they would find themselves
back on the top of things, strong and hearty again
without any doubts, without a single doubt, just as
they used to be. Making decisions for every one,
universally respected, America put back in its place,
all the world at the salute again.
"That I am convinced is what the Winston-
Bullace state of mind amounts to as distinguished
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
from the more cold-blooded types you find like our
thin-lipped Uncle Robert. That is Class Two.
"But what is the enemy? I say it is time and fate,
geography and necessity. Sempack I suppose would
say it was the spread of scientific and mechanical
progress about the world which is altering the pro-
portions of every blessed thing in life, so that (Sem-
pack is my witness) a world system has to come. But
you can't fight time and fate and scientific and me-
chanical progress. You don't get a chap like Bullace
grasping an idea like that. And Bullace is our class,
Cynthia j he is the rule and we are the exceptions.
For him therefore it has to be a conspiracy. If he
finds his blessed Empire is losing the game, or to put
it more exactly, if he finds the game is evaporating
away from his blessed Empire, then there must be
cheating. There is an enemy bewitching us and
there ought to be a witch smelling. (If only it
was half as simple! )
"They call the witch Bolshevism. The Red Red
Witch of the World. They pretend to themselves
that there is a great special movement afoot to over-
throw British trade, British prestige and the British
Empire. Wicked men from Moscow are the real
source of all our troubles. The miners are just their
'tools. 3 You remember old fool Bullace saying that.
If it wasn't for Moscow the miners would like lower
pay and longer hours. Ask for them. So you just
take something that you call Bolshevism by the throat
and kill it, and every one will be happy.
"You can call almost anything Bolshevism for this
purpose. You tackle that something and kill it and
then the dear old Nineteenth Century will be re-
stored and go on for ever and ever and ever,
"This is what I mean when I say that this trouble
here is on a false Issue. The miners and workers
haven't the ghost of an idea of what they are up
against. They are out because their lives are squalid
and their prospects dismal. They object to carrying
all the hardship of the shrinkage of England's over-
seas interests and investments. To them it is just
the old story of the employer trying to screw^them
down. They don't connect it yet with the decline of
Britain as a world market and a world bank or any-
thing of the sort. The reactionary party in the gov-
erment, the c sojers' as we call it, on the other hand
are prancing about saving the country from an imag-
inary Social Revolution. You see the miss?
"The goverment lot, both Class One and Class
Two, wants a fight. Class One to shift their losses
on to labour and Class Two to exorcise the phantom
of decay. Class One just wants to win. But if Class
Two gets the least chance to make it a real bloody
fight it will. They want to bully and browbeat and
shoot and confuse everything in wrath and hate.
They will make silly arrests, they will provoke. If
they get a chance of firing into a crowd, they will
do it. If they can have an Ainritsar in Trafalgar
Square they will. They want to beat the Reds and
then tie up the Trade Unions hand and foot and
trample. And that, my dear, is the dangerous side of
the present situation.
"What adds to its danger is that the miners are
being led too stiffly. I sympathise with them, but I
see they aren't playing to win anything solid. If
Cook can, he will give our Bullaces an excuse. Cook
is Bullace in reverse. Perhaps there is some Moscow
about Cook, Or he shares a dream with Bullace.
He dreams Bullace's nightmare as a paradise. Both
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
"So far our patient, humorous, common English
hasn't given the goverment a chance. But anywhere
now, an accident might happen. Some silly provoca-
tion. An ugly crowd. Or pure misunderstanding.
It's touch and go these days. I have said it is a silly
situation, but also it is a dangerous one. And above
all it is a game of false issues. Nothing fairly meet-
ing anything else. Nothing being plainly put, the
real world situation least of all. Two different
things. Labour wanting to be comfortable in a time
of slump and the old Empire lot wanting to feel as
lordly as ever in a spell of decline. And the com-
mon man with his head spinning. This sort of
Came a queer little drawing of which Mrs. Ry-
lands only discovered the import after some moments
"There my dear Cynna is a long history, tedi-
ously told, but I think it gives the general shape of
this business here in England up to date. On one
hand workers striking wisely or not, against shrink-
age and going clown in the scale of lif e j on the other
a goverment, a governing class, all of our sort,
coal-owners, landowners, industrials and financiers,
anticking about, believing or pretending to believe
we are fighting Red Revolution, and setting out in
good earnest under cover of that to kill or cripple
trade unionism and labourism generally. Much
good it will do their blessed Empire if they do.
Against time and fate.
"But can you imagine the solemn glory of an owl
like Jix, in the midst of all this? Can you imagine
what I have to put up with at the club from the old
fools and the young fools burning to 'give these
Bolshevists a lesson 7 ? And the tension in the air
when I go to investigate Uncle Robert. Meanwhile
the reasonable, kindly, unsuspicious English com-
mon public is so puzzled, so good-humoured, so will-
ing to do anything that seems tolerant and helpful
and fair, and so ignorant of any of the realities !
"Hind told me yesterday of a bus-driver who had
struck, in all loyalty to his trade union and then went
and hunted up the young gentleman from Oxford
who had been put in charge of his bus, just to tell
him a few points he ought to know about handling
a great heavy bus. What was it the old Pope said?
Non Angli sed Angell simple-minded angels.
Fancy trying to shift mere pecuniary losses on to
the daily lives of men of that quality!"
So ended the Fifth Part. The sixth and last part
was headed simply:
"About myself and Cynthia.
"And now lastly, my darling, what am I doing?
Nothing. Going about with my mouth open in the
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
wonderful spectacle of England paralysed by its
own Confusion of mind. Baiting Uncle Robert.
Reading the dreams of Mr. Sempack and comparing
them with the ideas of the British Gazette. Learn-
ing something perhaps about the way this extraordi-
nary world of ours ? as Sempack would call it, fumbles
along. And writing to you.
"I don't know what to do, Cynthia? I don't know
where to take^hold. This is a world change being
treated as a British political and social row. Its roots
are away in world finance, gold and the exchanges,
and all sorts of abstruse things. It isn't London or
Yorkshire or New York or Moscow; it's everywhere.
Part of everywhere. Where we all live nowadays.
No. i, The Universe, Time. I sympathise with the
strikers but^I don't really see what good this general
strike is going to do, even if it does all it proposes
to do. Throw everything out of gear, but what
then? The goverment would have to resign. Who
would come in if the goverment went out? Unheard
of labour jnen? Snobs and spouters. Miscellaneous
liberal leaders. What difference is there except for
the smell of tobacco between Asquith and Baldwin?
Lloyd George saving the country? Half the liberals
and all the labour leaders would see the country in
boiling pitch before they let it be saved by Lloyd
George. Communism and start again? There aren't
three thousand Communists in England and half of
them aren't English.
"On the other hand, I won't do a hand's turn to
break the strike.
a l feel most horribly no good at all. I have
twenty-two thousand a year, I'm a pampered child
of this England and I don't belong anywhere. Dear
Uncle Robert drives our great concerns and our fifth
share, or thereabouts, is like a trunk tied behind an
automobile. Pm an overpaid impostor. Nobody
knows me. I've got no authority. If I said any-
thing it wouldn't matter. It would be like some one
shouting at the back. of a meeting. And even if it did
matter it wouldn't matter, because free speech is
now suppressed. There are no newspapers and the
broadcasting is given over to twaddle there was a
fellow gassing most improvingly about ants and
grasshoppers yesterday mixed up with slabs of
biassed news and anti-strike propaganda. You see
one is just carried along by the stream of events
and the stream is hopelessly silly.
"And that brings me round, Heart of my World,
to all we were talking about before I left you. How
good it was to talk like that just at the end and how
good those talks were! People like us, as you said,
ought to do. But what are we to do and how are we
to do? Where do we come in? It is all very well
for old prophet Sempack to lift his mighty nose and
talk of the great progessive movements that will
ultimately sweep all these things away, but will they?
Are they sweeping them away? Even ultimately?
This muddle, this dislocated leaderless country, find-
ing its level in a new world so clumsily and danger-
ously, this crazy fight against a phantom revolution,
is Reality. It is England 1926. Sempack isn't
Reality} this is Reality. People smile about the
streets and make dry jokes in our English way, but
hundreds of thousands must be hiding worry almost
beyond bearing. Anxiety untold, hardship and
presently hunger. And the outlook bad. At any
time there may be shooting and killing. Sempack's
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
great glowing golden happy world is only a dream.
A remote dream. I cannot tell you how remote
from this disorganised London here.
"All very well to talk of the ultimate reasonable-
ness of mankind, but what chance has ultimate rea-
sonableness when some avatism like Winston collars
all the paper for his gibberings and leaves you with
nothing to print your appeals to the ultimate reason-
ableness on 5 or when a lot of young roughs like
your Italian Fascists break up every one who writes
or speaks against their imbecile ideas about the uni-
verse and Italy?
"This ultimate reasonableness of Sempack's is a
rare thing, a hothouse plant. It's the last fine dis-
tillation of human hope. It lives in just a few
happy corners of the world, in libraries and liberal
households. If you smash the greenhouse glass or
turn off the hot water it will die. How is it ever
coming into the open air, to face crowds and sway
"If he is back there with you I wish you would ask
him that. Drive him hard, Cynthia. He ought
to come over here.
"Last night my mind was so puzzled and troubled
I could not sleep. I turned out long after midnight
and prowled down through Westminster and out
along the Thames Embankment. There were not so
many lights as usual and all those flaring advertise-
ments about whisky and dental cream and suchlike
helps to the soul weren^t lit. Economy of power. It
made the bridges seem browner and the little oily
lights on barges and boats more significant and it gave
the moon a chance on the steely black water. I
thought you might be looking at the same old moon
at that very moment. It looked hard and a bit cold
over here but with you it must have been bigger
and soft and kindly. There were very few people
about and not a tram running. Cold. Such few
people as did pass were for the most part hurrying
home I suppose. I looked at the moon and
thought how you would presently be reading over the
things I have been trying to tell you and how per-
plexing they were. I had a great heartache for you,
to be with you. I wished I could talk to you instead
of just writing to you. Do you remember it isn't
a week yet, how I sat beside you on your balcony
above the old palm trees and talked to you? Not
very much. How much I would say now that I
couldn't say then!
a l wandered along the Embankment wondering
what was brewing beneath all this frightful foolish-
ness of the strike. Things are surely brewing that
will affect all our lives, change all the prospects of
that child of ours. A country that has been very
proud and great and rather stupidly and easily great,
learning its place in a new world* A finer world
perhaps later but bleak and harsh at present.
"London rather darkened, rather unusually quiet
in spite of its good humour has something about
"It's like BovriL I mean, so much of the world's
life is still concentrated here. London is a very
wonderful city. I don't think it is just because I am
English that I think that.
"I stood and looked back at the Houses of Parlia-
ment and Big Ben and thought of the way the mem-
bers must be going to and fro in that empty resound-
PHILIP'S FIRST REAL LETTER
ing maze of a place with its endless oak-lined pas-
sages, every one rather at a loss as to what was to
happen next. Saying silly things to each other, little
jokes and so on because they can't think of anything
sensible to say. Futile lot they are at Westminster
nowadays when anything real shows its teeth at them.
There would probably be more people than usual, but
trade union sort of people, standing about in the
lobbies. No sight seers. Not the usual mixed
crowd. * . .
"My mind ran on to all these riddles we have to
guess together, you and I, if we are not to be lost
in the general futility. If we are not to be swept
along just as everything here is being swept along
by forces, too misunderstood to be used or controlled.
I thought of what a sterling thing you are so that
you almost persuade me I can be sterling. And it
came to me all over again that I wasn't nearly as
good a thing as even I might be, nor making nearly
enough of myself in spite of all my freedoms and
money and position. Nor were any of the people
who were wrapped up in the vast, ungracious, mean
quarrel made up of fear and hot misunderstandings
and the meanness and cowardice of comfortable
wealth. Millions of strikers saying their life wasn't
good enough like some big thing talking in its sleep.
And the anti-revolutionaries being firm and unflex-
ible like an uneasy dream when your fist gets
clenched. Why didn't any of these people seem able
to wake up? Why was I only awake in gleams and
moments like that moment?
"I got into a sort of exalted state out there on the
Embankment in the cold moonlight.
" *Good GodP I said to you I said it to you 5 you
can't imagine how much I have talked to you lately,
trying to explain things *Can none of us get to-
gether in the world to make something of it better
than such silly squabbling and conflict as this? Is it
a lie that there ever were martyrs that men have
died for causes and set out upon crusades? Is reli-
gion over for ever and the soul of man gone dead?
And if it isn't, why is there none of it here? Why
are these people all jammed against each other like
lumpish things against the grating of a drain? Why
is there no league for clear-headedness? Why are
there no Fascisti of the Light to balance the black
Fascists? Why are none of us banded together to
say "Stop!" all these politicians' tricks, these shams,
to scrap all the old prejudices and timidities, to take
thought and face the puzzle of the British position
and the real future of England and the world^ face
it generously, mightily like men? 3
"That much I said or some such thing. I seemed
to have a gleam of something not yet It is too
much to get put together yet. Now I am trying to
get what I said and thought back again and to write
it down and send it to you so that you can know what
Abruptly it ended, "Philip."
THAT apparently was all that Philip had in-
tended to send, but in addition there was a
loose sheet on which he had been thinking
and which had evidently got itself among the fas-
ciculi by mistake.
He had jotted down disconnected sentences*
MRS. RYLANDS REPLIES
"The common man/ 5 she read, "wants. to do noth-
ing with general affairs wants to be left alone*
Why not leave him alone ?"
There was a sort of Debit and Credit account On
the credit side was written: "A man who doesn't
think conserves energy. Parties of reaction like the
Fascists^ parties of dogma like the Communists, are
full of energy. They get something done. They
get the wrong thing done but it is done. Inde-
pendent thought, critical thoughtj has no chance
On the Debit side she read: "In the long run
intelligence wins/ 7 and then: "does it?" and mere
scribbling. Across the lower half of the sheet ran
one word very slowly written in a large fair hand,
Much smaller: "Intelligence plus energy."
Then beginning very large and ending very small*
a row of interrogation marks.
MRS. RYLANDS read over her husband's
letter and re-read her husband's letter a
very great deal before she set herself to
answer it. In many ways he had astonished her,
His lucidity struck her as extraordinary. It was
not as if he was learning to express himself; it was
as if he had been released from some paralysing in-
hibition. Evidently he had been reading enormously
as well as talking, and particularly he had been satu-
rating himself in the wisdom of Mr. Sempack* At
times he passed from pure colloquialism to phrases
and ideas that instantly recalled Mr. Sempack's ut-
terances. Perhaps it was better that he should learn
to write from Mr. Sempack than from a schoolmas-
ter, even though it was an Eton schoolmaster. The
spirit of all he said was quite after her own heart.
How could she ever have doubted that there was
all this and more also beneath his darkness and his
To her his vision of affairs seemed fresh and pow-
erful and broad. How much he knew that he had
never spoken of before! His implicit knowledge of
the sequence and meaning of strikes and Royal Com-
missions made her feel not only ignorant but ^in-
observant. She must have read of all these things
at the time or failed to read of them. And she
had led debates at Somerville and passed muster as
a girl with an exceptional grasp of social questions!
Well, she must read again and read better. She
had thought before all her thoughts were sub-
merged in her personal passion for him of some
such fellowship as this that was now beginning be-
tween them. In discovering Philip anew she was
being restored to herself. He wrote of his futility,
but in every page she found him feeling his way
to action. Futility! She turned over that self-
revealing sheet with the word "Organisation" upon
it. Half his dreams he had not told her yet because
as yet they were untellable.
She turned the sheets over again and again. He
was a stronger beast then she was: it showed in every
line. His handwriting had a certain weakness or
immaturity} he spelt wildly ever and again, but these
were such little things beside his steadfast march to
MRS. RYLANDS REPLIES
judgments. He saw and thought and said it plain.
"He's a man/' she said and fell to thinking of what
Comparatively she was all receptiveness. She per-
ceived for the first time that there was initiative even
in thought. For example, the things he said about
Lord Edensoke were exactly the things she had al-
ways been disposed to think but she reflected with
a startled and edified observation that she had never
actually thought them. It was not merely that there
was virility and decisiveness in action, there was vi-
rility and decisiveness even in mental recognition. To
judge was an act. Always her judgments were timid
and slow. He crouched and watched and leapt and
behold! there was fact in his grip. Her role was cir-
cumspection until the lead was given her. And be-
hind his judgments even in this first letter there was.
the suggestion of action gathering.
That afternoon and later and the next day she
wrote him her own first real letter in reply to his.
The conclusion of his came so near to the matter of
Mr. Sempack's last talk that she thought she could do
no better than write a description of that gentleman's
return to Casa Terragena and of how he had argued
with himself and her about the relations of thought
to activity. She got all that she felt pretty clear.
She hoped that he would look up Philip in London,,
for she was quite sure they would both be ready to
meet again and exchange ideas amidst that conflict
of witless realities. She tried to be very simple and
earnest about Mr. Sempack and his views, but when
she told of him and Lady Catherine, the humourist
and novelist latent in every intelligent woman, found
release. She thought she would write about his new
tie and then she decided not to write about his new
tie and finally she wrote about it rather amusingly
at some length. And afterwards she was inclined to
regret having written about that new tie. She felt
she ought never to have noted his new tie. But the
letter had gone before this last decision was made.
At the end of her letter she found herself begin-
ning afresh after Philip's own manner.
"About what you say of getting together, of or-
ganisation, of sane organisation, I find my mind al-
most too excited to write. It is work in that way that
has to be done now. Manifestly. 'Fascists of the
Light' is a great phrase. Who would have thought
of you my dear dear Man as a maker of phrases?
Before we have done, perhaps we shall make many
things. You and I, I hope, but I begin to see it will
be mainly you. I am torn my dearest between the
desire to do and a fear of vain gestures that we cannot
justify. I send my heart to you. I wish I had you
here just for a moment to kiss your ear and put my
cheek against yours. I wish I could put my arm
across your broad shoulders. I am very well, I am
flourishing here, my dear Man. I glow. I grow.
I am a water melon in the sun. A wonderful nurse
from Ulster comes to-morrow. Stella Binny is
bringing her. It is early to bring her yet, but she
is free and must be secured. McManus her name
is. In a little while, I gather, Casa Terragena will
belong to Mrs. McManus and Bombaccio will do
her reverence. Stella has given up Theosophy now,
by the bye, and is a fully fledged R.C She was
deceived' in Rome. Much fuss over her, to judge
by her letters. They always make a fuss at first.
We shan y t argue much. She will just drop the
OPINIONS OF MRS, McMANUS
McManus and pass on. Four long weeks more, my
dear. When all this is over I will work for you,
with you and for you, my dear. Philip, my darling,
my Man, I love you and that is the beginning and
the end and beginning over again of all I have to
say to you."
MRS. RYLANDS was agreeably interested in
Stella Binny had never quite seemed to
exist and now this Mrs. McManus intensified that
quality. Stella arrived just like any one, exactly like
any one. She might have been an item in big figures
in statistics; visitor 3792, normal. But Mrs. Mc-
Manus was exceptionally reaL The only other thing
that was equally real in her presence was the expec-
tation of Mrs. Rylands. She stuck out from Stella
in the car; and her one entirely masculine valise,
painted with broad bands of white and blue, made
all the rest of the joint luggage a mere et-cetera.
She was strong and rather tall, she got into a
nurse's costume straight away upon her arrival, she
presented a decided profile, a healthy complexion
and lightish hair just shot with grey. It was not
faded hair, it was either light brown or it was
silver j it never hesitated. On her lips rested a smile
and a look of modest assurance. One perceived at
once that she knew every possible thing there was to
be known about obstetrics and that it rather amused
her. Partly that smile of hers was due to the fact
that she had very fine large teeth and her lips had
stood no nonsense with them and had agreed to meet
pleasantly but firmly outside them. Her eyes were
observant, ready and disposed (within reason) to be
kind. Her speech was pervaded by a quality that
made it rather more definite in outline and rather
clearer in statement than normal English. Mrs. Ry-
lands referred it to Ulster. She felt that this was
confirmed when Mrs. McManus took an early op-
portunity to mention that she was a "Prodestant."
Nowadays Protestants who call themselves Protest-
ants are only to be found in Ulster and the backwoods
of America. Mrs. McManus evidently did not come
from the backwoods of America; her accent would
have been entirely different if she had.
"Almost all my work is done in Italy and the
south of France in Catholic families, and 1 shouldn't
get half of it if I wasn't known to be a Prodestant
out and out," she explained. "It gives them confi-
dence. You see "
Her expression conveyed an intense desire to be
just and exact. a You can't make a really thorough
nurse out of a Roman Catholic woman. It's known.
There's holy, devoted women among these Roman
Catholic nurses, mind you. I'm not denying it.
Some of them are saints, real saints. It is a privilege
to meet them. But what you want in a nurse is not
a saint 5 it is a nurse. They aren't nurses, first
and foremost and all the time. They're worried
about this holiness of theirs. That's where they fall
short. They fuss about with their souls, confessing
and all that, taking themselves out and looking at
themselves, and it distracts them. It takes them
off their work. How can you think about what you
are doing when all the time you are asking your-
self, Am I behaving properly?' and keeping your
mind off evil thoughts. Keeping their minds off
OPINIONS OF MRS. McMANUS
evil thoughts indeed! Why! a real nurse like me
just thinks of what she happens to be doing and lets
her mind rip. The unholy things have come into
my mind right under the nose of the doctor you'd
hardly believe, Mrs. Rylantfs. And gone clean
out of it again. Whereas one of them Roman
Catholics would be all for laying hold of it and keep-
ing it and carrying it off to tell her confessor after-
wards like as if she'd laid an egg. And meanwhile
with all that much of trouble in her, she'd be bound
to do something wrong. Holy they certainly are I
allow. But holiness is a full time job, Mrs. Rylands,
and it only leaves enough over for nursing as will
make a reasonably good amateur. And amateurs
they are. So I keep to it I'm a Prodestant just to
show I'm not that sort. Which is as much as to say
if I don't nurse well I'm damned, and there's no
"And then all that purity of theirs. It takes a
Prodestant to bathe every day," said Mrs. McManus.
"These Catholics they don't believe in it. There's
nuns haven't bathed for years. And think all the
better of themselves for it.
"And that's all about it," said Mrs. McManus,
suddenly as if winding up her dissertation.
"There's your friend Miss Binny," she resumed.
"A nicer lady I've never met. And she's just eaten
up with this idea of being converted to Catholicism
and all that. It's wonderful what she gives to it.
They say she's visited nearly every image and pic-
ture there is in Italy where there's a Stella Maris,
that being one of the Virgin-Marys they have. In a
Rolls-Royce car. I've no doubt it comforted her
greatly, if she happened to be wanting comfort, and
anyhow it was a grand occupation for her. Not hav-
ing anything better to do. Catholic she is, like new
paint. But would she have brought a Roman Catho-
lic nurse along to you? She would not."
"That's very extraordinary/ 5 said Mrs. Rylands,
considering it. "I never thought of that."
"Naturally," said Mrs. McManus. "It's only
now that any occasion has arisen."
Her opinions upon the state of affairs in Italy
were equally clear cut and novel to Mrs. Rylands.
"These Fascists," she said, "are making a great to-do
here with their Mussolini and their black shirts
and all that. Giving castor oil to respectable people
and frightening them and beating them about and
generally misbehaving themselves. They 5 !! do a
great mischief to Italy. They're just boys. There's
not a Fascist in Italy would dare to stand up to a
really formidable woman, who knew her own mind
about them. There's suffragettes we had in London
would tear them to bits. But they get taken seri-
ously here, as if they were grown-up people. It's
dreadful the precociousness of boys here* I could
tell you things would astonish you. It's not having
proper public schools makes these Fascists. We'll
never get them in England, try though they may,"
She reflected. "Those public schools of ours in
England are by all accounts mere sinks of iniquity.
If you believe the half you're told. And what bet-
ter place could you send a growing boy to, seeing
what divils boys are? And there they can work it
off and get rid of it and take it out of each other.
Whereas these young Fascists don't ever grow up to
proper ideas even about cutting their hair."
"But don't they run the country?" asked Mrs.
OPINIONS OF MRS. McMANUS
Rylanck "Don't they at least keep the trains punc-
"The roads in Italy are a disgrace to civilisa-
tion/' said Mrs. McManus. "I've had to bump my
ladies over them. Let them mend their roads/ 5
and so swept Fascist efficiency away.
"All you hear of Italy is this Mr, Mussolini's
propaganda/' she expanded. "He's a great propa-
ganding advertising sort of man. He's the voice
of Italy and he's drowned all the other voices.
Every one has been so shut up and so beaten and
arrested and all that by these young divils that
had a word to say against them, that now they don't
even know the truth themselves. How can you pos-
sibly know anything about yourself if you won't hear
a word about yourself unless it's praise? .Well,
that's where they are/' said Mrs. McManus. "At
bottom " She sighed. "The trouble with a coun-
try like Italy is that there's no sensible women about
to keep the young men in order. And speak plainly
and simply to them about their goings on. They're
just mere females and Catholics, these Italian
women 3 and that's all there is to it.
"Would you believe it/' said Mrs. McManus, "I
was stopped by some of them young Fascists on
the Pincio one day and told to go back from the
walk I was taking. Up to some bedevilment they
were. I wouldn't go back and I didn't go back. I
just stood where I was and looked them in the eye
and told them what I thought of them. Quietly.
And what I'd like to do to them if I was their
mothers. In English of course. After a bit they
began to look sheepish and glance sideways at one
another and shrug their shoulders and in the end
they let me go my way. Of course I used English.
It's always the best thing, especially with these for-
eigners here, to talk to them in English, if you
happen to get into any sort of dispute with them.
They're conceited people and they don't like to feel
ignorant, and talking to them in English makes them
feel ignorant. It puts them in the inferior posi-
tion. If you talk to them in their own language
you're apt to make mistakes and that sets them off
despising you. Whereas if you talk in English they
despise themselves and you get the upper hand of
them. Exactly like talking quietly to dogs. Never
lower yourself by talking to a foreigner in his own
tongue. Never seem to try to understand him. Be-
have as though he ought to be ashamed not to under-
stand every word you are saying to him. You have
him at your mercy."
That too impressed Mrs. Rylands as a striking
point of view. She made a note of it for future con-
Mrs. McManus professed an admiration for Casa
Terragena and the gardens that was transparently
"They must have cost a terrible deal of money,"
she said, as if she wished that to be taken for praise.
"Dragging these flowers from all the ends of the
earth to make them grow here together! The in-
dustry of it ! The ways of man ! Hardly a thing 00
earth nowadays stays where God put it*"
"If God did put it," said Mrs, Rylands.
"A manner of speaking," said Mrs. McManus.
"There's that big lovely purple spike thing you say
came from Australia, No, I'll not attempt to leani
OPINIONS OF MRS. McMANUS
the name of it. Such things cumber the mind. It's
standing ^up there like a regiment among the rocks
with all its bells open, ranks and ranks of it wait-
ing for insects that are all round the world away.
No one ever brought over the insects it was made
for. You may say it is botany and science bringing it
here, but I can't help feeling it's taking advantage of
a flower that hadn't the power to help itself. It's
making all the summer one long First of April for
it bringing it here. Day after day, more of these
bells. Open for nothing.
"It's like calling Caller Herrin 5 in the wilderness
of the moon/' said Mrs. McManus.
Mrs. Rylands saw her lovely garden from a new
"Hundreds and hundreds of workmen it must
have taken from first to last. I wonder what they
thought they were doing when they made it. Any-
how it's a very good place, what with the sea
breezes, for you to be having your baby in."
Mrs. McManus went off at a tanget. "That but-
ler of yours is a fine looking fellow and well set
up. I doubt if Mr. Ramsay Macdonald has finer
moustaches. It's a mercy he's so wrapped up in
himself. He'd be a Holy Terror with the maids if
Perfectly true. But no one had ever remarked it
She regretted Philip wasn't available. "I'm no
friend to separating husband and wife when there's
a baby coming. Some people nowadays have a per-
fect fad for keeping them apart, just as though they
were animals. But men are not animals in such
respects and wives need to be comforted. Of course
if he had to go back for the coal strike there's
nothing more to be said- It's a pity."
She explained that she did not propose to walk
about with her patient more than was necessary.
"You've got your thoughts/ 3 she said, "and I have
mine. I see you're carrying a little green book
about to write in* I needn't chew the newspaper
to make talk for you, thank goodness. The work
I've had to do at times! But you don't want that.
I'll hover. I'll just hover. You'll find I'll always
be near and just out of sight if ever you call. I've
been trained to hover for years."
"You'll find it very quiet here/ 5 said Mrs. Ry-
lands. "There's very little to do. 33
"I'll never want for something to do while there's
a crossword puzzle to be found in the paper. Won-
derful the uses men can find for things like words! 33
"If you'd like to run in to Monte Carlo for an
afternoon or so soon the car is quite at your service.
There's really no need even to hover for a bit. 33
"Do you see me breaking the bank?" said Mrs.
"There again," said Mrs. McManus.
"There's English services in Mentone on Sunday*
You must go for that."
"I will not," said Mrs. McManus.
"But as a Protestant !"
"I'm no friend to extravagance in any shape or
form. When I'm in England I go to the English
church and when I'm in Scotland I'm whatever sort
o Presbyterian is nearest, but going to English
Church services in a country of this sort is like fox
ROW WITH UNCLE ROBERT
hunting in Piccadilly, Pd be ashamed to be seen
going there, prayer-book and all. 33
An irrational impulse to make Mrs. McManus
help with the little green book came to Mrs, Rylands.
"But isn't God everywhere?" she asked.
"I was not speaking of God. 33
"But you are a Protestant 53
"I am that"
"But Protestants believe in God. 3 *
"Protestants protest against Roman Catholics.
And well they may."
"But you believe in God?**
"That is a matter, Mrs. Rylands, strictly between
Himself and me/ 3
BUT the large clear obiter dicta of Mrs.
Manus, those hard opaque ideas like great
chunks of white quartz, were no more than
an incidental entertainment for Mrs. Rylands. The
main thread of her mental existence now was her
discussion with her little green leather book, and
with Philip, the discussion of her universe and what
had to be done about it. For five days Philip sent
nothing to her but three cards, not postcards but
correspondence cards in envelopes from his clubs,
saying he was "writing a screed 33 and adding endear-
ments. Then in close succession came two bales af
written matter, hard upon the sudden and quite
surprising announcement in the French and English-
Parisian papers that the general strike in England
These "screeds' 3 were very much in the manner
of his former communication* Some lavender-tinted
sheets from Honeywood House testified to a night
spent at his Aunt Rowena's at Barnes. But there
were no more dra wings j he was getting too deeply
moved for that sort of relief. There was not the
same streak of amused observation, and there was
an accumulating gravity. He reasoned more. The
opening portion was a storm of indignation against
the British Gazette, the government control of broad-
casting and the general suppression of opinion in
the country. That was very much in his old line.
He had taken the trouble to copy out a passage from
the government proclamation of Friday and print
and underline certain words. "ALL RANKS of
the armed forces of the crown are notified that ANY
ACTION they may find it necessary to take in an
honest endeavour to aid the civil power will receive
both now AND AFTERWARDS the full support of
the Government. " Something had happened, Mrs.
Rylands noted! He had spelt "government" right!
And an anticipatory glance over the pages in her
hand showed that he was going on spelling it right.
To these quoted words Philip had added in a hand-
writing that was distorted with rage, rather thicker
and less distinct: "in other words, *Shoot and club
if you get half a chance and the Home Office is with
you. You will be helped now and let off afterwards.'
This is publicly asking for violence in the most peace-
ful social crisis the world has ever seen. I told you
the government wanted to have a fight and this
proves it. But this isn't the worst. . . ,"
He went on to tell of how the Bishop of Oxford,
the Masters of Baliol and University and a number
of leading churchmen had called upon the govern-
ment to reopen negotiations and how the Archbishop
ROW WITH UNCLE ROBERT
of Canterbury had attempted in vala to get a move-
ment afoot in the country to arrest the struggle and
revive negotiations. The Archbishop had preached
on this on Sunday and had tried to mobilise the pul-
pits throughout the country. He had found himself
treated as a rebel sympathiser and choked off. The
British Gazette had suppressed the report of this
church intervention and the government had prohib-
ited its publication by the British Broadcasting Com-
pany. "They want this fight. They wmt to get to
violence/ 5 wrote Philip, with his pen driving hard
Into the paper, and proceeded to denounce "Win-
ston's garbled reports of Parliament. Anything
against them is either put in a day late or left out
altogether. People like Oxford and Grey are cut
to rags. Cook said of the negotiations., days ago, 'It
is hopeless/ and the dirty rag quoted this as though
he said it of the strike. And we have a cant that
these Harrovians are real public school boys and
understand fair play!"
It was funny to find the faithful Etonian breaking
off in this way to gird at Harrow and make it respon-
sible for the most unteachable of its sons.
It seemed Philip had been in the House of Com-
mons on Friday and heard a discussion between Mr.
Baldwin and Mr. Thomas that more than confirmed
his suspicions that the petty Daily Mail strike and the
consequent break was a foreseen excuse, meanly and
eagerly snatched at by the government. Then came
a rumour, current at the time but with no f ounda-
tion in fact, that the King (or according to another
version the Prince of Wales) had wanted to say
something reconciling and had been advised against
such a step. "Jix as Mussolini," commented Philip^
quite convinced of the story. He stormed vividly
but briefly at the broadcasting programmes and the
talk in the clubs. Came a blank half-sheet, just
like one of those silences in some great piece of
music before the introduction of a new theme and
then, on a new page and very distinctly: "I have had
a damned row with Uncle Robert."
This was the motive of the next part of Philip's
composition, written more evenly and more consecu-
tively than anything he had done before, the Largo
so to speak. He expanded and developed and varied
his jangling sense of Uncle Robert, and gathered it
altogether into a measured and sustained denuncia-
tion. He set out to convey with a quite unconscious
vigour, his deep astonishment, his widening perplex-
ity and his gathering resentment that anything of the
nature of Lord Edensoke should exist in the world,
let alone in such close and authoritative proximity to
himself. At times his discourse might have borne the
heading "The Young Man discusses the Older Sort
of Human Male."
"He's damned," he repeated. "I never realised
before that any one could go about this world with-
out any stink or fuss, so completely and utterly dead
and damned as he is." He jumped into capitals to
say his worthy uncle was a "Bad Man, nerve and
muscle, blood and bone." He declared that it was
impossible to understand the general strike, the coal
strike, the outlook in England, the outlook for all the
world until Lord Edensoke had been anatomised and
analysed. And forthwith he set about the business.
Philip made it quite clear that up to his early con-
versations with his uncle after his return to England,
he had supposed Lord Edensoke to be animated by
ROW WITH UNCLE ROBERT
much the same motives as himself 3 namely by a
strong if vague passion to see the world orderly and
growing happier,, by a real wish to have the Empire
secure^ beneficent and proud ? by a desire to justify
wealth by great services^ and that he was prepared to
give time and face losses that the course of human
affairs should go according to his ideas of what was
fine and right. These had always been Philip's own
assumptions^ albeit rather dormant ones. But
a He doesn't care a rap for the Empire as an Em-
pire/ 5 wrote the amazed nephew. a He sees it sim-
ply as a not too secure roof over a lot of the family
investments. 3 ' Lord Edensoke's sense of public duty
did not exist. He despised his social class. His
loyalty to the King amounted to a firm assurance
that he diverted public attention from the real rulers
of the country. People liked the monarchy; it
saved public issues from the dangerous nakedness
they had in America. "Otherwise if he thought there
was a dividend to be got out of it, he would boil the
king in oil,' 3 He didn't believe in social order, in
any sort of responsibility that a policeman and a law
court could not check. Frankly, in his heart ? he saw
himself to be a brigand^ carrying an enviable load
through a world wherein nothing better than brig-
andage was possible. Law was a convenient con-
vention among the robbers and you respected it just
so far as it would be discreditable or dangerous to
break the rules.
Came an illuminating anecdote. At dinner Lord
Edensoke had shown a certain weariness of Philip's
political and social crudities. By way of getting to
more interesting things he had opened a fresh topic
with "By the bye, Philip, have you any loose balances
about? I think I could make a good use of them."
He had proceeded to explain to Philip's incredulity
that the general strike was bound to collapse as soon
as the scared and incapable labour leaders saw an
excuse for letting it down that would save their faces
with their followers, and that then the miners would
be left locked out exactly as if there had been no
general strike but with "diminished public sup-
port" "That fellow Cook" could be relied upon
to keep them out and to irritate the public against
them. His lordship did his best to disabuse Philip's
mind of the idea that there would be any settlement
for some time. "You mean you won't settle any-
how?" Philip had said. Lord Edensoke's reply had
been a faint smile and a gesture of the hand. So,
as Rylands and Cokeson would have thousands of
trucks unemployed, and easily handed over to other
uses, the thing to do was to buy foreign coal now, and
release and distribute it later when the community at
large came to realise all that Lord Edensoke knew.
Coal would come back to fancy prices higher than
'21. "There's a speculative element, of course," he
had said. "The miners may collapse," but as he saw
it, there was, saving that possibility, anything from
twenty-five to a hundred and fifty per cent, to be
made in the course of the next few months upon
anything Philip chose to bring in to this promising
Philip ended his account of this conversation in
wild indignation. "We are the coal-owners of Great
Britain," he fumed, "and this is how we do our
duty by the country that trusts us, honours us, makes
peers of us! We starve the miner and strangle in-
ROW WITH UNCLE ROBERT
dustry and we make 'anything from twenty-five
to a hundred and fifty per cent. 3 out of a deal in
foreign coal. Naturally we do nothing to bring
about a settlement. Naturally we are for the Con-
stitution and all that, which lets us do such things."
Philip's narrative wasn't very clear 3 but this was
the point it would seem at which the "damned row
with Uncle Robert 55 occurred.
Respect for the head of the family made its final
protest and fled. It was Philip's last dinner with
his senior partner. He seemed to have talked, ac-
cording to his uncle's judgment, "sheer Bolshe-
vism. 1 ' It was doubtful if they got to their cigars.
Philip returned to the Reform Club and spent the
rest of a long evening consuming the Club notepaper
at a furious pace-
Details of the final breach did not appear because
Philip swept on to a dose, unloving investigation of
his uncle's soul.
CC I seem to have been thinking of him most of
the time since," he said.
What did Lord Edensoke think he was up to,
Philip enquired. Clearly he did not suppose he was
living for anything outside himself. He had no
religion, no superstition even. He had a use for
religion, but that was a different matter. For him
religion was a formality that kept people in order.
It was good that inferior and discontented people
should be obliged to sacrifice to the God of Things
as they Are, It set up a code of outer decency and
determined a system of restraints. Nor had he any
patriotism. The British Empire in his eyes was a
fine machine for utilising the racial instincts of
the serviceable British peoples for the enforcement
of contracts and the protection of invested capital
throughout the world. If they did not, as a gen-
eral rule, get very much out of it in spite of their
serviceableness that was their affair. They could
congratulate themselves that their money was on a
gold standard even if they had none, and they had
the glory of ruling India if even they were never
allowed to go there. He liked the English climate
and avoided it during most of the winter. It was a
good climate for work and Courtney Wishart in its
great* park just over the hills from Edensoke was a
stately and enviable home, one of those estates that
made England a land fit for heroes to die for. He
had no passion for science. The spirit that devotes
whole lives to the exquisite unravelling of reality was
incomprehensible to him. He preferred his reality
ravelled. It was better for business operations. He
betrayed no passion for any sort of beautiful things.
He would never collect pictures nor make a garden
unless he wanted to beat some one else at it or sell
it at a profit. He loved no one in the world
Philip would tell her a little later of his uncle's
loves. In brief he lived simply for himself, for
satisfactions directly related to himself as the centre
of it all and for nothing else whatever.
One of his great satisfactions was winning a game.
He was not, Philip thought, avaricious simply but
he liked to get, because that was besting the other
fellow. His business was his great game. He liked to
feel his aptitude, his wariness, to foresee, and realise
and let other people realise the shrewd precision of
his anticipations. He played other games for recre-
ation. He was reported to be a beastly bridge player,
very good but spiteful and envious even of his part*
ROW WITH UNCLE ROBERT
ner. He played in the afternoons at the Lessington
after lunch and Philip said rumour had it that
several other members of that great club would go
into hiding and get the club servants to report for
them, not venturing near the card-room, until Eden-
soke was seated at his game. He played golf bit-
terly well. Physically he was as good as Geoffrey,
the same sure eye and accurate movements. He
had been a memorable bat at cricket and still made a
devastating show at tennis. And he was a wonder-
ful shot. Business kept him from much shooting,,
but he loved a day now and then, when he could take
his place among the guns and kill and kilL He
would stand, with those thin lips of his pressed to-
gether^ while the scared birds came rocketing over
him, wings whirring, hearts beating fast. He showed
them. But he had no blood lust. On the whole he
would rather play against a man than merely triumph
over^birds and silly things that probably did not feel
humiliated even when they were shot. Besting peo-
ple and feeling that the other fellow realises or will
presently find out that he has been bested was subtler
and far more gratifying* "You know that scanty
laugh of his," wrote Philip, "rather like a neigh.
The loser gets it." Just now he was besting the
miners. "The more he gets them down the better
he will be pleased." The profits were a secondary
consideration, important only like scoring above the
He loved no one. "I don't think I have ever
talked to you about Aunt Sydney," said Philip, and
proceeded to explain the domestic infelicities of his
uncle. She had been a brilliant beautiful girl but
poor, one of the "needy Needhams." Uncle Robert
would never have married a rich and independent
wife because it would have been difficult to best her
and hard to try. He had kept Aunt Sydney down
for a time and she had been almost treacherously sub-
servient until she had got him well committed to
infidelity with a secretary, and had enticed him into
provable cruelty. She had been a patient Grisel who
had -eavesdropped, stolen letters and bided her time,
A lover, well hidden, gave her sage counsel. Then
she had held her husband up with the threat of a
discreditable divorce. Uncle Robert had no stomach
for being "talked about all over London," It was
one of his essential satisfactions to be respected and
high and unapproachable, and he must have had
some bad hours over the affair. C We all rather like
Aunt Sydney on that account/ 7 wrote Philip.
She arranged a separation of mutual toleration and
wore her lover upon her sleeve in full view of her
baffled spouse. He became "Burdock, the chap Lady
Edensoke keeps/' her watchful and not always com-
Lord Edensoke tried to make this seem to be his
own design and flaunted it with various conspicuous,
expensive and rather discordant ladies for some years
to show everybody just how things were. Then he
reverted to his more congenial pursuit of discovering,
seducing, exalting and throwing over, very young
and needy beauties from the middle classes. He
coveted them, bested them, got them, hated them
because so plainly he had bought them, and threw
them over with well established expensive habits and
a contemptible income. "He sets about it like a cat/*
wrote Philip. "I have seen him on the platform
at a Mansion House meeting, fixing some pretty girl
ROW WITH UNCLE ROBERT
in the audience like an old cat spotting a nestling in
a bush. He sets about it very quietly and cleverly.
He has all sorts of secretarial jobs to offer, and I
believe there is a friendly West End dressmaker.
He can even seem to be influential round about one
or two theatres if a girl has ambitions of that sort.
He gets them and makes them submit to this and
that, and they become afraid of him. They realise
they are unsafe. He can turn them back to poverty
and the streets, so easily. When he has got them
thoroughly afraid of him, then I suppose he feels
like God. In the end, it does not matter how they
propitiate. Go they must. In his life, there must
have been a score of these romances"
Thus Philip, relentlessly. These were the inter-
ests and amusements of Lord Edensoke, the satisfac-
tions that kept him alive and made the life he lived
worth while, the besting of men, the abasement of
women, the sense of conquest assured by the big
balance, the big house, the many servants, the cham-
pagne you couldn't buy in the open market, the
special cigars, the salutation of common men, the
whispered "That's Edensoke," the rare visits to the
House of Lords. What other reality was there?
( These were the things that kept the look of quiet
self -approval on those thin lips and assured the great
coal-owner that he had the better of the sentimental-
ists and weaklings about him, that he could rank
himself above these other men who wasted their
time upon ideas and causes, who kept faith beyond
the letter of their bargains, and sacrificed and re-
strained themselves for their friends and their asso-
ciates, their wives and their womankind. "My
dear," wrote Philip, rising to the full gravity of his
Largo, "this is the analysis of Uncle Robert. These
are his ends and all that he is! For the first time
in my life I have looked at him squarely and this
is what he is. And it is a hideous life. It is a
hideous life and yet it comes so close to me that it
is a life I too might drift into living.
"This is a common way of living among our kind
of people now. Edensoke is no rare creature. There
are more Edensokes than know they are [sic] , Eden-
sokes with variations. There are hundreds of him
now among the rich, and thousands and thousands as
one goes down the scale to the merely prosperous.
Some are a little different about their womenfolk
and buy them dearer and make more of a show with
them. Many are sillier I admit he has a good
brain. Lots are too cowardly for ^romances 3 and
leave the women alone but not so many as there
used to be. Most have fads and hobbies that give
them a little distinction, but all are equally damned.
You and I could write down a score of names in five
minutes. Not one that wouldn ? t rejoice to be in that
deal over the foreign coal, if they knew of it and
knew how to get into it. Not one> that wouldn't feel
bested to hear of a coal miner with a decent bath-
room, a Morris chair and a shelf of books. The gov-
ernment and the bunch behind the government,
abounds in his quality. Soames Forsyte again!
how near old Galsworthy has come to him. The
"And in a world of men like this/* Philip cul-
minatedj a we are waiting about for old Sempack's
millennium to come of its own accord! "
Mrs. Rylands paused at the end of the sheet.
The portrait of the contemporary successful man,
ROW WITH UNCLE ROBERT
for all the jerkiness of its strokes., struck her as dev-
astatingly true. There was not a thing Philip was
telling her about Lord Edensoke that seemed al-
together new to her. Even the bilked mistresses she
had known of> by intuition. And as certainly had
she known, and yet never quite dared to know, that
this was the quality of many men, of many powers,
of much of the power in the world. The world into
which she and Philip were now launching another
That too had to be reasoned out with the green
"What puts the sting into the problem of Uncle
Robert/ 5 Philip continued, a is the fact that he is
after all, blood of my blood and bone of my bone*
When he isn't looking like an elderly shop-soiled ver-
sion of Geoffrey coming home late, he is looking like
me in thirty years time. The personal question for
me is, whether he is the truth about me stripped
of a lot of illusion and rainbow stuff and Words-
worthian clouds of glory' and such, or whether I
am still in possession of something I don't know
some sort of cleanness and decency, that he has lost.
Vifhich I need not lose. I'm all for alternative two,
and if so, then the most important thing in the world
for us is to know what has dried this up in Uncle
a Pm going to write something difficult, dear wife
confessor. I can't help being clumsy here and it
will sound priggish to the square of pi. But 1 see
it like this. There is something in me that for want
o a better word I might call religious. There is
something else, unless it is the same thing, that holds
me to you. Not just sex and your dearness, they
hold me, but something else as well that makes me
put not you, but something about you, over and be-
fore myself before ourselves." (Marginal note:
CC I just can't get away from all these ambiguous
somethings but I think you will see what I mean.
When a man can manage his 'ones 7 and his c some-
things' and his other pronouns then I suppose he has
really learnt to write.") This has to do with noble-
ness and good faith. This is in me but not so very
strong, and I thank whatever powers there be that I
met you. This wants help to keep alive, and you
help it to keep alive, have helped and will help it
tremendously. It may be illusion but that does not
matter so long as it remains bright and alive. Lots
of people keep it alive through religion, church I
mean and all that, but nowadays that hasn't kept
up, religion hasn't, and a lot of us can't make that use
of it. Of any current sort of religion I mean. And
it can go altogether. I have this in me, whatever
it is, and so has Geoffrey and so perhaps had Uncle
Robert. I am more like Geoffrey than you like to
think and he is more like me. He didn't have my
luck in getting you and having you thinking of
fine things beside me, and before and always he
has had the worse of that sort of luck and he is
shyer than I am and more secretive. I've seen what
I am talking about shrink in him, but I've watched
it and it is there. I don't suppose there is any re-
ligion now strong enough to get him or any sort of
woman to pick him up. I don't know. Still some-
thing lingers. It makes him uncomfortable and he
is disposed to hate it and try to sneer at it until it is
dead altogether. And by the same reasoning Eden-
ROW WITH UNCLE ROBERT
soke started like this. There was a time when he
thought^ of doing fine things and having something
in his life lovelier than scoring points in a game.
He had the illusion, or if you like, because prac-
tically it is the same, he had the sacred flame, what-
ever it is, flickering about in him. I expect Aunt
Sydney made a tough start for him. He hadn't my
luck. Suppose when they two were young he had
found out suddenly that she loved him more even
than her pride. Suppose something had happened
like what happened to me. Infusion of blood saves
lives, but being loved like that is infusion of soul.
Shy men bury their hearts like that fellow in the
Testament who buried his talent. And when you dig
them up again, there's nothing. Hearts must have
air, have breathed upon them the breath of life. As
you did. The flame is hard to light again. Now
that there is no religion really, one is left to nothing
"I'm writing all this just anyhow and God knows
what you will make of this hotch-potch of ideas.
I've got to cut it short and finish.
a lt is one o'clock, my dear, closing time for a
respectable club and I must turn out from here and
walk back to South Street to bed. Not a taxi to be
This first letter had been sealed down after this
effort and then reopened to insert a sheet of South
Street notepaper and on this was scrawled: "I open
this letter again to tell you that Catherine Fossing-
dean has killed a man. I did not even know she was
in England. I thought she was still with you. But
she seems to have scuttled home directly the Gen-
eral Strike was begun. You know she is mixed up
with the comic-opera fellow Fearon-Owen who stars
it in the British Fascist! world. I can't imagine her
taste for him. Looks to me like the sort of fellow
one doesn't play cards with. Got his knighthood out
of organising some exhibition. One of those splendid
old English families that sold carpets in Constan-
tinople three generations ago and was known as Fer-
onian or some such name with a nose to it. Anyhow
he's true-blue British now. Bull-dog-breed to the
marrow. Union Jack all over him. And a terrific
down on the lazy good-for-nothing British working
man. Who really is British, blood and bonfe. In
some irregular way this glory of our island race has
got his fingers well into an emergency organisation
of automobilists, for scattering Winston's British
Gazette up and down the country, and suchlike pub-
lic services. And he seems to have handed over a
motor-car to Lady Catherine for moonlight rushes
to the midlands.
"You know how she drives. Foot down and damn
the man round the corner. Giving her a car to
drive is almost as criminal as shooting blind down a
crowded street. She got her man near Rugby. Two
young fellows she got, but the other was only slightly
injured. This one was killed dead. Tramping for
a job, poor devil. And she drova on! She drove
on, because she was a patriotic heroine battling
against Bolshevism and all that, for God and King
and Fearon-Owen and the British Gazette, particu-
larly Fearon-Owen and the British Gazette. War
is war. Nothing will be done to her. That's all.
THE GENERAL STRIKE COLLAPSES
PHILIP'S other letter was much slenderer and
had been posted only one day after its pre-
cursor. It opened with his amazed account of
the collapse of the General Strike. "Everything
has happened as Uncle Robert foretold, and so far I
am proved a fool/ ? it began.
He went on to express a quite extravagant con-
tempt for the leaders of the Labour Party who had
"neither the grit to prevent the General Strike nor
the grit to keep on with it. 33 It was clear that he
had a little lost his equanimity aver the struggle and
that his criticisms of selfish toryism had tilted him
heavily towards the side of the strikers in the
struggle. And he was intensely annoyed to find his
uncle's estimate of the situation so completely con-
firmed. The time had come to call out the second
line, stop light and power and food distribution and
bring matters to a crisis, and there was little reason to
suppose that most of the men of the second line
would not have stood by their unions.
But it would have meant the beginning of real
violence and a grimmer phase of the struggle and the
trade union leaders were tired, frightened and con-
sciously second-rate men. They were far more terri-
fied by the possibilities of victory than by the cer-
tainty of defeat. They had snatched at the op-
portunity offered by a new memorandum by "that
Kosher Liberal, Herbert SamueP "Tut tut!" said
Mrs. Rylands; a but this is real bad temper, Philip!"
which nobody had accepted or promised to stand
by, and unconditionally, trusting the whole future
of the men they stood for, to a government that
could publish the British Gazette, they had called the
strike off. They had given in and repented like
naughty children "and here we are with men being
victimised right and left and the miners in the cart!
Nothing has been done, nothing has been settled.
The railway workers are eating humble pie and the
red ties of the Southern railway guards are to be re-
placed by blue ones. (Probably Jix thought of that. )
The miners have already refused to accept Samuel's
memorandum, and Uncle Robert's little deal is al-
most the only hopeful thing in the situation. He
gets his laugh out of it sure enough."
Even the writing showed Philip in a phase of
anti-climax. He was irritated, perplexed.
"Is all life a comedy of fools? Am I taking my-
self too seriously and all that? Here is a crisis in the
history of one of the greatest, most intelligent, best
educated countries in the world, and it is an imbecile
crisis! It does nothing. It states nothing. It does
not even clear up how things are. By great good luck
it did not lead to bloodshed or bitterness except
among the miners. Who aren't supposed to count.
And Catherine's kill of course. There was no plan in it
and no idea to it. It was a little different in form and
it altered the look of the streets j but otherwise it was
just in the vein of affairs as they go on month by
month and year by year, coming to no point, signify-
ing nothing. Burbling along. Just, as you say old
Sempack said, just Carnival. Where are we go-
ing? all the hundreds of millions that we are on this
earth? Is this all and has it always been such drifting
as this? Are the shapes of history like the shapes of
clouds, fancies of Polonius the historian? Now we
expand and increase and now we falter and fail.
THE GENERAL STRIKE COLLAPSES
Boom years and dark ages until the stars grow tire'd
of us and shy some half -brick of a planet out of space
to end the whole silly business.
"I cannot believe that, and so I come back to old
Sempack again with his story of all this world of
ours being no more than the prelude to a real civilisa-
tion. Hitch your mind to that idea and you can make
your life mean something. Or seem to mean some-
thing. There is no other way, now that the religions
have left us, to make a life mean anything at all.
But then, are we getting on with the prelude? How
are we to get on with the prelude? How are we to
get by Uncle Robert? How are we to get by Win-
ston and Amery? How are we to get by all these
posturing, vague-minded, labour politicians? My
dear, I set out writing these letters to you to tell
you ^ how my mind was going on and what I was
finding out to do. And in this letter anyhow I have
to tell you that my mind isn't going on and that I
am lost and don't know what to do. It is as if a
squirrel in a rotating cage reported progress. I wish
I had old Sempack here, just to put him through it.
Is he anything more than a big bony grey squirrel
spinning in a cage of his own? The great crisis
came and the great crisis went, and it has left me
like a jelly-fish stranded on a beach.
"The only people in all this tangle of affairs who
seem to have any live faith in them and any real go
are don't be too startled the Communist Party.
I've had glimpses of one or two of them. And the
stuff they teach and profess seems to me the most
dead-alive collection of half-truths and false assump-
tions it is possible to imagine. For every one who
isn't a Communist they have some stupid nickname
or other, and their first most fundamental belief is
that nobody who owns any property or directs any
sort of business, can be other than deliberately
wicked. Everything has to be sabotaged and then
everything will come right. They don't work for
one greatly organised world in the common interest,
not for a moment. Their millennium is a featureless
level of common people, and it is to be brought about
by a paradox called the dictatorship of the proletariat*
And yet they have an enthusiasm. They can work.
They can take risks and sacrifice themselves quite
horrible risks they will face. While we "
He had pulled up in mid sentence. The second
fascicle began as abruptly as the first ended,
a l have just been to see Sempack at Charing Cross
Hospital. 1 had no idea that he too had come back
to England. I thought he was doing a walking tour
in the Alpes Maritimes. But it seems that he was
knocked down by a bus in the Strand this morning.
They got through to me by telephone when he re-
covered consciousness and I went to see him at once.
There is some question whether the bus skidded, but
none that the great man, with his nose in the air and
his thoughts in the year 4000, overlooked it as he
stepped off the kerb. He wasn't killed or smashed,
thank goodness, but he had a shock and very bad
contusions and a small bone broken in his fore-arm,
and for two hours he seems to have been insensible.
He was very glad to see me and talked very pleas-
antly of you and the garden among other things.
Voice unabated. I could not have imagined they
could have packed him into an ordinary hospital bed,
but they had. There are no complications. He will
be out of hospital to-morrow and I shall take him
to South Street and see that he is sent off properly
and in a fit condition to his own house near Swanage.
Perhaps 1 will take him down. I like him and it
might be good to talk things over with him. But
what can he be doing in London? He wasn't at all
clear about that. Has everybody come to London?
Shall I next have to bail you out at Bow Street or
identify the body of Bombaccio recovered from the
Thames ? B
IT was queer to turn one's mind back from the
social battles and eventfulness of distant Eng-
land to life in the great garden. Here Mr.
Sempack was still a large figure of thought and Lady
Catherine simply lovely and florid and absurd. It
seemed as though it could be only little marionette
copies of them of which Philip told,, Sempack ban-
daged in hospital and Lady Catherine become rather
horribly strident, with blood upon her mudguards.
She had killed a young man. She was such a fool
that she would not greatly care,, any more than such
women cared for the killing of pheasants. That
young man would simply become part of the decora-
tion of her life like the dead and dying soldiers one
sees in the corners of heroic portraits of great con-
querors. And Philip away there. But also he was a
voice here, his letters made him a voice very near to
his musing reader. In his letters there were also
little phrases, little reminders, that even an intimate
novel cannot quote. These touched and caressed her.
He seemed to be Philip close at hand telling of the
Philip who went about England in a state of peevish
indignation, accumulating rebellion against cold and
capable Uncle Robert and all that Uncle Robert
stood for in life. And while the problems of this
struggle in the homeland passed processionally be-
fore her mind, she had also in the foreground, great
handsome chunks of the wisdom of Mrs. McManus
and alternatively the religion of Stella Binny.
"With Stella Binny Mrs. Rylands discussed theol-
ogy. The green leather book had been planned on
generous lines to open with metaphysical and re-
ligious ideas. Stella had just been received in the
Catholic Church and had arrived in a phase of shy
proselytism. So naturally both ladies converged on
a common preoccupation.
But if they converged they never met. When at
last Stella took her unremarkable departure for Eng-
land and Mrs. Rylands could think over all that had
passed between them as one whole, she was impressed
by that failure to meet, more than by anything else
in their arguments and comparisons. In some quite
untraceable way the idea of God as of a great being
comprehending the universe and pervading every
fibre of her existence had crept into her mind during
the past month or so. It was as if He had always been,
there in her mind and yet as if He was only now be-
coming near and perceptible. So long as she had
been in her first phase of love for Philip she had
hardly given this presence a thought $ now in the new
phase that was developing, the presence presided.
It was something profoundly still, something abso-
lutely permanent, which embraced all her life and
Philip and everything in her consciousness out to the
uttermost star. But when she set herself to compare
this gathering apprehension of God with Stella's
happy lucidities about her new faith, she found her-
self looking into a mental world that had not an idea
nor a meaning in common with her own.
Indeed her impression was that Stella's religion, so
far from being of the same nature as her own, was
nothing more than a huge furniture store of screens,
hangings, painted windows, curtains and walls, orna-
ments and bric-a-brac, to banish and hide this one
thing that ^ constituted her own whole faith. This
cosmic certitude, this simplicity beneath diversity, this
absolute reassurance amidst perplexity and confusion,
this profound intimacy, had nothing in common with
the docketed Incomprehensible of Stella's pious ac-
tivities, who was locked away in some steel safe of
dogmas, far away from the music and decorations,
Stella became defensive and elusive directly Mrs.
Rylands spoke of God. She gave her to understand
that the Mysteries of the Being of God were un-
thinkable things, an affair for specialists, to be en-
trusted to specialists and left to specialists, like the
mysteries discussed by Mr. Einstein. The good
Roman Catholic hurried past them with a bowed
head and averted eyes to deal with other things.
But Mrs. Rylands had not the slightest desire to
deal with these other things. She found them not
merely unattractive j she found them tiresome and
even in some aspects repulsive. She had no taste for
bric-a-brac in the souL She wanted God herself.
Belonging to a Church whose Holy Father conceiv-
ably stood in the presence of God, was no satisfaction
to her. She herself wanted to stand in the presence
of God. So far as Stella could be argued with upon
this question, she argued with her about the Mass.
"It brings one near. It is the ultimate nearness/' said
Stella, dropping her voice to a whisper. "It would
take me a billion miles away," said Mrs. Rylands.
She was naughty about the Mass and did her best to
shock her friend. "I don't want to eat God/ 5 she
blasphemed. "I want to know him." She said that
invoking the spirit by colours and garments and music
reminded her of the hiving of swarming bees. She
objected scornfully to the necessary priest. "God is
hard enough to realise/ 5 she said, "without the inter-
vention of a shaven individual in petticoats how-
ever symbolic his petticoats and his shaven face may
be, 5 ' She recalled some crumbs of erudition that had
fallen from the table of the parental vicarage and
cited parallelisms between the old Egyptian religions
and religious procedure and the Catholic faith and
practice. She hunted out controversial material from
the Encyclopedia Britannica. And from more de-
The miscellaneous literary accumulations of Casa
Terragena included several volumes about Catholic
mysticism, and among others one or two books by
Saint Teresa and the Life and Revelations of Saint
Gertrude with many details of her extremely pas-
sionate worship of her "adorable lover. 55 There was
also Houtin's account of the marvellous experiences
of the sainted Abbess of Solesmes, who died so re-
cently as 1909. Mrs. Rylands had dipped in these
strange records and now she returned to them for
ammunition. She read the blushing Stella how every
Christmas Eve the latter lady and her spiritual
daughters nourished the infant Jesus, afterwards de-
scribing for the edification of the Abbey community
"the chaste emotions of this virginal milking- 55
"Where, my dear/ 5 cried Cynthia, "is God, the
Wonderful, the Everlasting, In ecstasies like that? 55
Stella was ill instructed as yet in the new faith she
had embraced. But she had learnt the lesson of con-
fidence in the authorities into whose hands she had
given herself. "All this can be explained. ... It is
a special side of the faith."
Mrs. Rylands propounding fresh perplexities had
suddenly become aware that there was distress in her
friend's voice, in her eyes., in her flushed face.
Things had appeared in a changed light. Stella was
large and very blonde, a creature so gentle that ab-
ruptly, as the tears showed in her eyes and the note
of fear betrayed itself in her voice, her little hostess
had seen herself like a fierce little rationalist ferret,
tackling this white rabbit of faith. Surely she had
not been discussing great religious ideas at all. How
could one discuss such things with Stella? She had
simply been spoiling a new toy that had been making
her friend happy. "Oh, Stella dear! Forgive my
troubling you with my elementary doubts," she had
said. "I am very crude and ignorant. I know it,
my dear. Of course there must be explanations."
Stella dissolved in gratitude.
"Of course there are explanations. If only you
could talk to men like Cardinal Amontillado, you
would realise how explicable all these things are.
They make it so clear. But Pm not clever nor
"I was just asking," Mrs. Rylands had apologised.
"Some things of course are simply given us to try
our faith," Stella had said.
And Mrs. Rylands had changed the subject with
the happy discovery of two pretty little birds flirting
in a rose brake,
Now however that Stella had gone, Mrs* Rylands
could look back on all their disputations and utter her
matured and final verdict upon the great system that
had embraced and taken possession of her friend.
And it has to be recorded that the matured and final
verdict of Mrs. Rylands upon Roman Catholic Chris-
tianity, its orders and subjugations, its gifts and con-
solations, its saints and mysteries and marvels and the
enduring miracle of its existence, was delivered in
one single word: "Fiddlesticks," she said aloud
and distinctly as though she had hearers. She
said it aloud as she walked in the darkness of her
garden after dinner. As one might rehearse a one
word part. Mrs. McManus no doubt was hovering,
but she could hover so skilfully and tactfully that it
seemed to Mrs. Rylands that she was entirely by
With this word given out to the night Mrs. Ry-
lands asserted her tested and inalterable Protestant-
ism, her resolution to keep the idea of God clean
from all traces of primordial rites, of sublimated
sensuality and wrappings of complication, and her
relations with God simple and direct. God might
be invisible, indescribable, veiled so deep in mystery
as to be altogether undiscoverable, but at any rate
He should not be caricatured in mysticism, wor-
shipped in effigy and made the mouthpiece of au-
thority. Better the Atheist who says there is nothing
than the Catholic who says there is such stuff as
altars are made of.
And with that word of dismissal Mrs. Rylands
ceased to think about Roman Catholicism and fell
into a deep meditation upon the mystery and majesty
of her God.
Her God, that Being was j the frame and substance
of her universe of which and by which all its things
were made $ the mighty essential reassurance of her
particular mind. He was everywhere, but for her
His seat was in her spirit and His centre was her
heart. He had come as imperceptibly as a dawn and
her life had ceased to be ansemic and dispersed and
purposeless with His coming. Everything was suf-
fused with tone and beauty because of Him. He
had dawned upon her not as a dawn of light, for she
knew no more than she had ever known, but as a
dawn of courage. She perceived she could have as
soon called him "Courage" as called him "God."
The courage of the earth and skies. A courage
mighty beyond thinking and yet friendly and near.
No Name he had, nor need for a namej no prayers
nor method of approach. His utmost worship was
a wordless quiet. But in such stillness and black
clearness as this night gave, under the laced loveli-
ness of the star-entangling branches, he seemed to
be very close indeed to her.
Dreaming, drenched in worship and the sense of
communion, Mrs. Rylands walked in her garden.
The familiar paths just intimated themselves in the
obscurity sufficiently to guide her steps. One serene
planet high in the blue heaven was the most definite
thing in that world of shadows and obscurity.
The little white figure came to rest and stood quite
motionless upon the bridge where Mr. Plantagenet-
Buchan had discovered the flamboyant quality of the
gorge, but to-night, now that the moon rose late, all
that ascendant clamour of lines was veiled under one
universal curtaia of velvet shadow. Far, far above,
minute cascades caught a faint glimmer from the
depth of the sky, and plunged into an abyss of dark-
For a long time she remained there and her soul
knelt and was comforted.
At last she stirred and went slowly down a slant-
ing path that led towards the Via Aurelia, a path that
in its windings up and down and round about, gave
little glimpses between the trees now of Ventiniiglia
and now of the stars.
THE serenity of the night was broken.
Distant shouts ugly with anger and the
crack of a pistol.
She stopped still and returned to the world of fact.
The silence recovered, but now it was pervaded by
uneasiness and clustering multiplying interrogations.
What was it? The path she was on wound down
among rocks and pines below the tennis court to
where the work-sheds of the gardens showed dimly,
near the old Roman road. The noise had come out
of the blackness in which the road was hidden.
Suddenly again voices!
And then little phantom beams of light, minute
pale patches of illumination amidst the black trees.
These flicked into existence and as immediately van-
ished again. There were people down there, a num-
ber of men with electric flash lamps, looking for
something, pursuing something, calling to one an-
other. As they moved nearer they passed out of
sight below the black bulks of the garden houses,
leaving nothing but faint intermittent exudations of
light beyond the edges of the walls,
Then something appeared very much nearer, a
crouching shape on the path below, moving, coming
towards her, beast or man. A man with stumbling
FASCISTI IN THE GARDEN
steps, running. He was so near now that she heard
his sobbing breathing, and he had not seen her! In
another moment he had pulled up, face to face with
her, a middle-sized, stoutish man who stopped short
and swayed and staggered. He put up his hand to
his forehead. Her appearance, blocking his path,
seemed the culmination of dismay for him. "Santo
Dio! 3> he choked with a gesture of despair.
"Coming I" came the voice of Mrs. McManus out
of the air.
"What is it? ?? asked Mrs. Rylands, though already
she knew she was in the presence of the Terror.
"I Fascist! m'inseguono ! Non ne posso piu. . . .
Mi vogliono ammaazzare?" gasped the fugitive and
tried to turn and point, and failed and stumbled and
fell down before her on hands and knees. He
coughed and retched. She thought he was going to
be sick. He did not attempt to get up again,
"Coraggio!" said Mrs. Rylands, rallying her
Italian, and took his shoulder and made an ineffective
effort to raise him to his feet.
She thought very quickly. This man had to be
saved. She was on his side. It did not matter who
he was. She knew Fascismo, No man was to be
chased and manhandled in the garden of Terragena.
The pursuers were still beating about down in the
black gully of the sunken road. They had not as yet
discovered the little stone steps that came into the
garden near the bridge, up which their victim must
have stolen. He had got some moments' grace.
But he was spent, spent and pitifully wheezing and
weeping. He was sitting now on the path with one
hand pressed to his labouring chest. He could make
no use of his respite to get away.
He must hide. Could lie be hidden? She sur-
veyed the ground about her very swiftly. She re-
membered something that had happened just here,
a caprice of her own. A little way back
Mrs. McManus was beside her with her hand on
"Them Fascists," she remarked, with a complete
grasp of the situation. "Is he badly hurt?"
"Help him up," whispered Mrs. Rylands.
"Listen! Just a few yards back. Behind the seat.
There is a hole between the rocks, where the romarin
hangs down. One can be hidden there. I hid there
once from Philip. Push him in. Oh! Oh! What
is the Italian for hidel But he will know French.
'Faut cacher. Un trou. Tout preso ! ' "
"Inglese!" said the fugitive, helped to his feet
and peering closely at their dim faces as he clung to
the stalwart arm of Mrs. McManus. "Hide! Yes
hide. Mes poumons."
"You help him there. I will delay them," said
Mrs. Rylands, "if they come."
She showed the way to Mrs. McManus in eager
"Come," said Mrs. McManus.
The two dim figures, unsteady and undignified,
retreated. The man seemed helplessly passive and
obedient, and Mrs. McManus handled him with pro-
Mrs. Rylands turned her attention to the hunt
again. It was still noisy down there in the trench of
the road. It was just as well, for Mrs. McManus
seeking the hiding-place and having to reassure her
charge kept up a very audible monologue, and a con-
siderable rustle of bushes and snapping of sticks were
FASCISTI IN THE GARDEN
unavoidable. "But where the divil is it?" she asked.
The rustle and disturbance grew louder and ended
in a crashing thud. "Ugh!" she cried very loudly
and suddenly ceased to talk.
"Damn!" she said after a moment, spent appar-
ently in effort. Mrs. Rylands saw only vaguely
but it seemed that Mrs. McManus was bending
down, busily occupied with something. What had
happened? Had she found the proper hiding-
Mrs. Rylands abandoned her idea of standing sen-
tinel and flitted up the path.
"He's f ainted," said Mrs. McManus on her knees.
"Or worse. We'll have to drag him in. Let me
do it. Can you show me exactly where this hole of
yours is? It's all so dark."
For a minute, a long minute, Mrs. Rylands could
not find it. "Here!" she cried at last. "Here! To
More crackling of branches. Loose stones rolled
over and started off, as if to spread the alarm, down
the slanting path. The two women spoke in whis-
pers but the noises they made seemed to be terrific.
It was wonderful that the Fascists had not discovered
them minutes ago. How heavy a man can be!
A Fascist down below was yelping like a young
dog. "Ecco! Ecco! E passato di qui!" He had
discovered the steps.
"Come on with you!" said Mrs. McManus stum-
bling amidst the rocks and gave a conclusive tug.
"Pull that rosemary down on his boots," said Mrs.
Rylands. "I can see the gleam of them from here."
When she looked down the path again, the noise-
less beams of the flash lamps were scrutinising the
white walls of the garden house. The Fascists, some
or all of them, had come up into the garden. A
group of four heads was defined for an instant
against the pale illumination of the wall.
"We'd better go down towards them slowly/
said Mrs. McManus. "And if you should happen to
be feeling a little upset by all the hubbub they've
made, well, don't conceal it."
"They've three paths to choose from at the corner
of the sheds/' said Mrs. Rylands. "The main one
goes up to the house."
"So they'll send only a scout or so this way."
"But this way leads to the frontier."
Abruptly they were facing the scrutiny of the
bright oval eye of a hand-lamp j its holder a shock-
headed blackness. "Perche questa battaglia nello
mio giardino?" said Mrs. Rylands in her best Italian,
blinking and shrinking.
"Mi scusino, signore!" A boyish not unpleasant
"Pardon me indeed," came the indignation of
Mrs. McManus. "What are you after in this gar-
den, troubling an invalid lady in the night and all?"
"Troppo di what's light? it blinds me," Mrs.
Rylands complained, and the white oval breach of
the darkness vanished. "Che volete?"
The young man said something about the flight
of a traitor.
"Don't bandy Italian with him," advised Mrs.
"You can speak French perhaps; Parlate Fran-
chese?" said Mrs. Rylands and so got the conversa-
tion on a linguistic level.
The young man's French was adequate. That
FASCISTI IN THE GARDEN
traitor to Italy, Vinciguerra, she learnt, had been try-
ing to escape out of his native country in order to
injure her abroad. He had been watched and nearly
caught in Ventimiglia two days ago, but he had got
away. Now he was making his dash for liberty.
He had fled through this garden. He had run
along the Via Aurelia and come up the steps by the
little bridge. The young man was desolated to in-
vade the lady ? s garden or cause her any inconven-
ience but the fault was with the traitor Vinciguerra.
Had she by any chance seen or heard a man passing
through her domain?
Mrs. Rylands^f ound herself lying with the utmost
conviction. No one had passed this way. But she
had seen some one hurrying up the central path to
the house perhaps five minutes ago.
"It would be about five minutes ago."
She had thought it was one of the gardeners, she
said. In the darkness the young man made an almost
invisible but evidently very profound bow. And
turned back to his friends. "I must sit down," said
Mrs. Rylands still in French and taking the arm of
Mrs. McManus, wheeled her round. "Sit on that
seat," she explained.
"Sit right on him," said Mrs. McManus. "Ex-
At the same time the trees about them were suf-
fused by an orange glow, that increased in a series
of gradations. The two women halted. Looking up
the hill they saw Casa Terragena, which had been
slumbering in the night, growing visible and vivid,
as Bombaccio and his minions put on the lights.
Evidently they had become aware of the uproar
and were illuminating the house preparatory to sally-
ing forth in search of their mistress. The framework
and wire netting of the tennis enclosure became
vividly black and clear against the clear brightness
of the hall. A rapid consultation occurred at the
garden sheds and then the whole body of Fascists
went up towards the marble steps below the terrace.
The voice of Bombaccio could be heard like the chal-
lenge of a sentinel, and replies, less distinct, in a
number of voices.
"So it's Signer Vinciguerra we've got/' said Mrs.
Rylands, speaking very softly. "He used to be a
"I'll go back to him. I wish I had some brandy
"Well go back together," said Mrs, Rylands.
"If they make for the French frontier they may pass
back along this path."
They returned to the hiding place. "Sit you
down," said Mrs, McManus, and groped under the
bushes towards the cleft in the rocks. She fumbled
and produced a flash lamp of her own. Mrs. Ry-
lands for the first time in her life saw the face of a
horribly frightened man. He was crouched together
in the hole with not a spark of fight left in him.
His hand clutched his mouth.
"Sicuro," said Mrs. McManus with surprising lin-
guistic ability. "Restate acqui."
"Put out that light," said the fugitive in English.
"Please put out that light."
Darkness supervened with a click.
"Stay here until the way is clear," said Mrs.
"Sure," said Signor Vinciguerra.
"The garden is full of them, 1 * she said.
MRS. RYLANDS ACTS
She rearranged the trailing rosemary and returned
cautiously to the bench. She sat down by her charge
"He must stay here until the way is clear," she
said, and paused and added reflectively "And
A silent mutual contemplation.
"What are we going to do with him?" said Mrs.
Rylands in a low voice, glancing over her shoulder
at the faint sound of a boot shifting its pose on the
rock behind her.
Mrs. McManus also peered at their invisible
protege. "It's a very great responsibility to have
thrust upon two peaceful women just as they are
taking the air before bedtime. I hardly know what
to advise. . . . We can't leave him there."
"We can't leave him there."
Mrs. Rylands contemplated the situation with im-
mense gravity for some moments. Then she was
seized with a violent and almost uncontrollable im-
pulse to laugh at the amazing change of mood and
tempo ten minutes could effect. But she felt that
the fugitive would never understand if she gave
way to it. Extreme seriousness returned to her.
THE temperament and training alike of Mrs.
Rylands disposed her to shirk this startling
charge that fate had thrust upon her. Never
ia all her life before had she been in a position in
which she could not turn to some one else to relieve
her of danger or inconvenience. Her disposition now
was to summon Bombaccio and the servants, tell
them to order the Fascists out of the garden and take
Signer Vinciguerra, give him refreshments, make
him comfortable for the night and send him over
the frontier in safety by the accepted route for fugi-
tives, whatever that route happened to be, to-morrow.
She realised the absurdity of this even as it came
into her consciousness. She had no knowledge of
Bombaccio's political views and still less of his sus-
ceptibility and the susceptibility of his minions to
the Terror. This time she couldn't call upon Bom-
baccio. Even if he proved willing to help, it would
not she perceived be fair to him to make him a party
to the adventure. He and the rest of the Casa Ter-
ragena household were in Italy and had to go on
living in Italy under a Fascist government. She was,
the fact came up to her quite startlingly, doing some-
thing against the government under which she was
living. For the first time in her life, the powers of
social order and control would not be on her side,
The way of the lady, born safe and invincibly as-
sured, would not do here. She who had always
been quietly and surely respected and authoritative!
And if Casa Terragena was caught out at so di-
rectly an anti-Fascist exploit as this, what would be
its worth to the Rylands family for the next few
Startling to think that the proper course before
her, consistent with all the rest of her life, consistent
with the lives of all the respectable people in the
world, would be to go in and go to bed and just leave
that frightened man in the hole to his fate, his prob-
ably highly disagreeable fate*
MRS. RYLANDS ACTS
This thing was no mere adventure. It was a chal-
lenge, the supreme challenge of her life. She must
risk herself ? risk her home, risk failure and humili-
ating discovery. If she saved or did her utmost to
save this man, she broke with limitations that had
restricted and protected all her life thus far.
She clenched her hands together very tightly, for
her fibre was nervous timid stuff. Then for an in-
stant, one brief instant, her sense of her God who
had been so near a quarter of an hour ago, returned
to her. Wordlessly, in a breathing moment, she
prayed. She stepped across the boundary and tran-
scended State and government,
"We must save that man/ 5 she said.
No moral doubts about Mrs. McManus. "I'm
thinking how. It's no light matter, M'am."
Mrs. Rylands stood up, with her heart beating fast
and her head quite dear. She looked towards the
"I don't think they will come back by this path.
They believed us that there is no one this way. They
will take the way by the lily pond to the bridge
across the gorge. They are sure to go west in order
to block the escape to the French frontier. They will
scatter up and down the rocks and spend the night
there. I hope none of them catch cold. I think they
have started already. I heard something. Listen.
Look up there j that's a flashlight. Along the path
above us*. Bombaccio is showing them or one of
the men. Very well. Now w
She weighed her words. "There is only one place
to put him where he will be safe from gardeners,
servants, every one* Except perhaps Frant. . . .
Mr. Philip's bedroom. Locked up next to my little
sitting-room. We can turn the key on the service
"We could do that."
"It is all we can do."
"But to get him there!"
"If he could walk in in your hood and cloak.
That cloak of yours with a hood. We can get the
men out of the way. Listen. I am going to be very,
very, very frightened. Hysterical. You are afraid
for me. Very well, you go in and get Bombaccio to
bring brandy here. He'll want brandy badly enough.
Brandy and one glass j no tray. Take it off the tray
and bring it yourself. And get your cloak and bring
wraps for me. Oh! and bring a pair of your shoes
and stockings among the wraps. What? Yes for
him. I will be sitting here, terrified. Take those
men away!' I shall repeat over and over. I shall be
in terror at the idea of more people coming into the
gardens from above. I shall be dreadfully shaken.
You won't answer for the consequences if I see an-
other strange man. . . Will Bombaccio believe
"Men will believe anything of that sort," said
"Suppose he hangs about sympathetically."
"No man ever yet hung about an ailing woman if
he had any chance or excuse of getting away from
"Insist that he goes up to stop people at the gates
and take the menservants with him. You cannot bear
to think of his going alone and unless Pm mistaken
in him, ha won't bear to think of his going alone."
"He shall take them,"
"Have as many lights as possible put out. Say
MRS. RYLANDS ACTS
they upset me. Tell the women not to be frightened
on any account. Then they will be. It's just one
very, very desperate man, tell them. Tell them to
keep together and keep to their own quarters. Then
when it's all clear he puts on your shoes and stock-
ings and cloak and we just walk into the house and
up to my room."
"If you'd been in the Civil War in Ireland, you
couldn't have made a better plan," said Mrs.
"There's Frant? She'll be sitting up for me.
She's the weak point,"
"That maid of yours can hold her tongue," said
Mrs. McManus. "I've got great confidence in her.
I've heard Bombaccio trying to get things out of her.
I'll just drop her a hint not to be surprised at any-
thing she sees and keep mum. Maybe she'll have
to be told about it. Later. But she's English and
keeps herself to herself. You can risk Miss Frant."
"And Miss Fenimore?"
"She'll be in bed perhaps. Or maybe botanising."
Mrs. McManus reflected. "We'll have to take the
chances of that Miss Fenimore."
"The rest of it will work?"
The two women peered at each other in the dark-
It was alarming, but exciting. They felt a great
friendship for each other. "If you could look a bit
dishevelled and sickish," said Mrs. McManus. "In-
stead of looking all braced up like a little fighting
She reflected. "And when he's in that room ?
But one thing at a time."
She departed towards the house almost jauntily.
Mrs. Ryiands, tingling not unpleasantly,^ returned
to her seat. Seven years perhaps in a Fascist prison.
But that would make a stir in England. The gov-
ernment of course was much too hand-in-glove with
Mussolini to insist on her liberation. And yet
Rylands stood for something in England. . , .
Why think of such things?
There was a faint rustling and a painful grunting.
"Have they gone? 55 came a voice out of the black-
ness behind her.
She answered in a loud whisper: "Not yet. Have
patience. We are going to hide you in the house. 55
Then she stood tip and bent down towards the
unseen refugee. "You prefer to speak English or
French? 55 she asked and began to sketch out his part
in her plan in French. But he insisted on English.
"In America five years/ 5 he said. He asked various
questions. "I shall sleep in a bed/ 5 he noted with
marked satisfaction. "I have not slept in a bed for
four nights. Possibly I may wash and shave ? Yes ? 55
The plan worked Presently came the brandy
and Mrs. McManus. Much hurrying movement
and quick whispers. He had to have his shoes and
stockings put on him like a baby. But the brandy
There were heart stopping moments* As Mrs.
Rylands turned the corner of the landing with her
cloaked and hooded refugee beside her and holding
to her arm. Miss Fenimore came out of the little
downstairs sitting-room with a book in her hand.
"Going to bed? 55 said Miss Fenimore, yawning*
"Good nil 55
MRS. RYLANDS ACTS
"Good night, dear," said Mrs. Rylands and pushed
her companion on.
"Good night, Mrs. McManus,' 3 cried Miss Feni-
"Put the sitting-room lights out, dear," said Mrs.
Rylands instantly, with great presence of mind. And
then as Signor Vinciguerra stumbled up the next
flight of steps she whispered: "The door to the left
and we are safe!"
Frant was in the ante-room Immersed in a book
and didn't even look up as they passed across it.
Mrs. McManus too had her disconcerting mo-
ment. Following discreetly, she discovered Miss
Fenimore, just too late, in the sitting-room entrance.
"I never did!" cried Miss Fenimore. "Why! I said
good night to you on the staircase just a moment
"There's no harm in saying it again," said Mrs.
"But you went upstairs?"
"And came down again."
"It's not half a minute."
"I'm that quick," said Mrs. McManus, and left
her still wondering.
"It's like second sight or having one of those
doppel-gangers," said Miss Fenimore. "I just went
into the sitting-room to switch off the light. I hardly
did more than turn round. Hasn't there been some
sort of trouble in the garden?"
"I heard a noise. Shouting and running it was,"
said Mrs. McManus. "We'll have to ask Bombaccio
to-morrow. Good night to you," and she disap-
peared above the landing.
Alone with her God so to speak, Mrs* McManus
made a hideous grimace at the invisible Miss Feni-
She found Mrs, Rylands in her husband's room,
having her hands kissed effusively by a weeping,
dishevelled middle-aged man with a four days 5
beard. He had discarded the nurse's cloak and her
much too tight shoes, but he still wore her stockings
pulled over the ends of his trousers so that up to
the waist he looked like a brigand and above that, a
tramp, "Brave and kind," he sobbed over and over
again. "I was at my ooltimate garsp." Mrs. Mc-
Manus became aware that Frant had followed from
the ante-room attracted by the rich sounds of the
kissing and praise. "Miss Frant," said Mrs. Mc-
Manus, closing the door on her, "we'll have to
trouble you with a secret. Look at him there! A
great political senator he was, and see what they
have made of him! A friend of Mr. Rylands, He
was being hunted to his death by them Black Shirts
and we've got to hide him from them. None of the
servants must know. They aren't safe not a single
one of them. They may be Black Shirts themselves
for all we know. We'll have to hide him and get
him out of this country somehow or Murder it will
Frant's thin face expressed understanding and
solicitude. She was a white-faced, whisp-haired
woman with much potential excitement in her small
bright blue eyes. "Have you locked the valet's door
beyond the bath-room?" she asked, pallidly aglow.
"I'll see nobody comes in from the passage,"
One might have imagined that the rescue of fugi-
tives was a part of her normal duties*
Mrs. McManus skilfully but tactfully disengaged
MRS. RYLANDS ACTS
Mrs. Rylands' hands from the gratitude of Signor
Vinciguerra. "The great thing here is Silence," she
whispered, shaking him kindly but impressively.
^There's Fascists maybe in the rooms above
and Fascists maybe downstairs and they're al-
most certain to be listening outside the window. If
you'll just sit down in that chair and collect your-
self quietly I'll give you some biscuits and a trifle
Signor Vinciguerra was wax in her hands.
Mrs. Rylands, disembarrassed, was free to make a
general survey of the situation. She put two towels
in the bath-room and found Philip's shaving things
and a sponge. From the wardrobe she got a dress-
ing gown and in the chest of drawers were pyjamas.
The man seemed to be famished. Miss Frant could
get some sandwiches without remark. Or Bovril.
Bovril would be better. Unless Signor Vinciguerra
made too much noise or talked too loudly in his
sleep he could with reasonable luck be safe here for
some days. Philip's room opened into the little sit-
ting-room that gave on the balcony and into which
her own bedroom opened on the other side. No one
was likely to go into it. Signor Vinciguerra could
lock himself in and answer only to an agreed-on tap.
She could profess to be ill until definite action was
called for and Miss Frant could make up a bed for
Mrs. McManus on the couch in the ante-room,
barring all intrusion of the maids. Food could be
brought upj not much but sufficient to keep the good
man going. And so having provided for the tem-
porary security of Signor Vinciguerra the next prob-
lem was how to get rid of him.
He was left to his toilet in Philip's apartment.
Miss Frant, after a whispered consultation with Mrs.
McManus in the ante-chamber, went downstairs to
order and wait for a large cup of Bovril and toast
and learn how things in general were going on.
Mrs. Rylands drifted to the balcony and discovered
the old moon creeping up the sky above the east-
ward promontory, picking out the palm fronds and
patterning the darkness of the garden.
Extraordinary! It was long past her customary
bedtime and everything was most improper for a
woman in her condition, and yet instead of feeling
distressed, fatigued and dismayed, she was elated.
It was, to be frank with herself, a great lark. It
would be something to tell Philip. It was still ex-
tremely dangerous and it might become at any time
horrible and tragic, but it no longer appeared a mon-
strous and unnatural experience. She believed that
on the whole she was likely to succeed in this ad-
venture. Things so far had gone amazingly well.
If one kept one's head they might still go welL
The frontier was not half an hour's walk away*
Being outside the law, fighting the established sys-
tem of things, was after all nothing so very over-
Problem: to get Mm away.
That was going to be an anxious business.
There in sight were the lights of Mentone, France,
freedom and security* The real Civilisation* And
against that a dark headland, the edge of captive
Italy. Where to-night the Fascists would be watch-
ing* Where always perhaps there were watchers,
now that Italy was a prison.
Such a very middle-aged man he was!
la romances and plays a fugitive was at least able
THE PRISON LAND
to run. Most fugitives in fiction were high-grade
amateur runners. One thought of a young handsome
white face, with a streak of hair across it and per-
haps blood, a white shirt torn open a tenor part.
If only this were so now, one might give him a rest,
smuggle him down to the beach to-morrow night and
set him off to swim across that dark crescent of water,
to sanctuary. What could it be altogether? Four
miles? Five miles? Or put him in the bathing boat.
But that might be difficult. At times there were
search lights. Odd there were none just now! Per-
haps that put swimming or a boat out of court even
for heroes. A really good swimmer might dive as
the lights swept by. Or one could have packed him
off up the gorge to clamber into the hills and escape
by precipitous leaping and climbing. But for that
a Douglas Fairbanks would be needed. Her mind
struggled against an overbearing gravitation towards
the prosaic conclusion, that the most suitable role for
Signor Vinciguerra would be that of a monthly
nurse, into which he had fallen already. In that
guise she could see herself taking him across the
frontier with the utmost ease in the well known and
trusted Terragena car, and she could imagine no
other way that was not preposterously impracticable.
IT seemed incredibly late, later than any night had
ever been beforej but Mrs. Rylands was in no
mood for sleep. She sat in her little sitting-
room, dimly lit by one shaded light, and listened to
the rambling astonishing talk of Signor Vinciguerra.
He had bathed himself and washed and shaved and
emerged to efface the first impression he had made of
something worn out, physically over-fed and under-
trained and mentally abased. In Philip's pyjamas,
slippers and dressing-gown, he looked now a quite
intelligent and credible Italian gentleman. He con-
sumed his Bovril and toast with restrained eagerness.
He talked English with a sort of fluent looseness and
the only faults in his manners were a slight excess
of politeness and an understandable jumpiness.
Mrs. McManus sat in a corner of the room, almost
swallowed up in shadow, and she took only a small
share in the conversation. At any time she might
pounce and dismiss the talkers to their slumbers.
Frant, after much useful reconnoitering, had gone to
bed. Bombaccio and his minions had come back to the
house, not too excessively excited, and gone to bed
also, quite unsuspiciously. The Fascists it seemed
had put a cordon round the garden and purposed to
beat its thickets by daylight. Apparently they had
an idea that in the morning Vinciguerra might either
be caught exhausted or found dead within its walls*
Mrs. Rylands determined to mobilise all her garden
staff to make a fuss at the least signs of trampling or
beating down her plants and flowers, while she her-
self telephoned complaints to the Ventimiglia police.
It would look better to make a fuss than remain sus-
piciously meek under their invasion.
The respited quarry of the Fascists talked in weary
"To an Englishwoman it must be incredible. A
man hunted like a beast! And for why? The sim-
plest criticisms, Italy has embarked upon a course
that can have only one end, National tragedy. Twice
I have been beaten. Once in Rome in full daylight
THE PRISON LAND
in the Piazza della Colonna. Once in the little town
where formerly I was mayor. Left on the ground.
I was carried home. Then my house watched by
sentinels, day and night. Followed whenever I went
abroad. It became intolerable. I could not breathe."
He shook his head. "I fled."
Forborne moments he stared In silence at his
"Imagine! Your Bertrand Russell. Or your
George Trevelyan, that fearless friend of Italy and
Freedom. Men of that sort. Chased and beaten.
Because they will not flatter. Because they will not
bow down. To a charlatan !"
He said the last word in a whisper and glanced
about him as he said it. He grimaced his loathing.
"We were in Civilisation. We were in a free
country. And suddenly this night fell upon us.
Truly I learnt it in English at school the price
of freedom is eternal vigilance !
^ "This whole country is one great prison. A prison
with punishments and tortures. For every one who
thinks- For every one who speaks out. I made no
plots. I went out of politics after the election of
1924. But I wrote and said Italy becomes over-
populous. She must restrain her population or make
war and war will be her destruction, I persisted that
these facts should be kept before the Italian mind.
. . . That was enough.
* Italy perhaps has never advanced since the Ris-
orgimento. She seemed to do so after her unifica-
tion, but possibly she did not. Only you Anglo-
Saxons have won your way to real freedom, freedom
of thought, freedom of speech and proposal.
Slowly, by centuries, surely, you have won it. Per-
haps the French too, Germany I doubt. ^ You have
your great public men, respected, influential, no mat-
ter the government. Your Shaw, your Gilbert Mur-
ray, your Sempack; Americans like Nicholas Murray
Butler, Upton Sinclair, Arthur Brisbane. Free to
speak plainly. Bold as lions. Free above the
State. But in Italy that actor, that destroyer, that
cannibal silences us all!; Performs his follies. Puts
us all to indignities and vile submissions, I can't tell
you the half of things submitted. The shame of it!
For Italy ! The shame for every soul in Italy I
"I am a comfortable man. Not everything in my
life has been well. I have been used to the life eh,
the life of a man of the world. Prosperity. Indul-
gence perhaps. But I had rather be this hunted thing
I am than any man who keeps his peace with State
and Vatican and lives now in Rome prospering.
Yes even here. In danger. Wounded and Dead
perhaps, dear Madam, if it were not for you?'
His voice died away.
"But is there no movement for freedom in Italy? 3 *
asked Mrs. Rylands.
"We took freedom for granted* We took prog-
ress and justice for granted. We did not organise
for freedom and progress then, and now we cannot
No. All things in life, good things or bad things,
rest on strength. Strength and opportunity- If you
have things that you desire it is because you willed
well enough to have it so. There was no liberal will
in Italy but only scattered self-seeking men. Poli-
ticians were divided. Intellectual men, not very
cordial, not banded together, not ready to die for
freedom, one for all and all for one. Rather pleased
to see a rival put down. No sense of a danger in
THE PRISON LAND
common. When I was young and read your Her-
bert Spencer and your liberal thinkers and writers I
said the great time, the great civilisation, will come
of itself. Nothing comes of itself except weeds and
confusion. jWe did not reckon with the hatred of
dull people for things that are great and fair. We
did not realise the strength of stupidity to call a halt
to every hope we held. We thought there were no
powers of darkness left. And now Now . . .
Progress has been taken unawares! Progress has
been waylaid and murdered.
"But at least the freedom and progress of the
English-speaking world is safe. Italy will not al-
ways be as she is now.
"Nothing is safe in life. Now I know. What
has happened in Italy may happen all over the
world. The malignant, the haters of new things and
fine things, the morally limited, the violent and in-
tense, the men who work the State against us, are
everywhere. Why did we not see it? Man civilises
slowly, slowly. Eternal vigilance is the price of
"Yes," said Mrs. Rylands, "I begin to see things
I never suspected before, about me and supporting
me. One may trust to servants and policemen and
custom. And live in a dream. 53
Signer Vinciguerra assented by a gesture.
Came a pause.
The little travelling clock upon the table pinged
one single stroke and Mrs. McMaaus stirred. "One
o'clock in the morning ! J> said Mrs. McManus, and
rose masterfully, "You'll be wanting your rest,
Signor Vinciguerra. There is much to be done yet
before you are safe in France. 3 *
WHEN at last Signer Vinciguerra was in
France the whole thing seemed ridiculously
easy. Mrs* Rylands was astonished to
think the affair had ever seemed a challenge to her
courage or a defiance of danger. For a day he lay
hidden in Philip's room and no one, who was not in
the secret, thought of going there. The next morn-
ing he walked out of Casa Terragena with Miss
Frant, the maid, even as he had walked in, as a
nurse. He was now carefully shaved, made up,
dressed completely in garments hastily unpicked and
resewn to fit him passably, and assisted by glasses.
The men were already up the garden with the lug-
gage, for Mrs. Rylands was going to visit her dear
friends the Jex-Hiltons at Cannes for a couple of
nights. Frant had let out to Bombaccio that her mis-
tress had to see a great British specialist. Nothing
to be really anxious about in Mrs. Rylands' condition
but something not quite in order.
It was visitors' day for the gardens. If any one
observed a nurse who was not Mrs. McManus, well,
it was some other nurse. Or there are such things
as consultations of nurses. Above waited Parsons
the English chauffeur with the best car. Vinciguerra
was left in a quiet corner and Frant went on to fuss
about the luggage at the gates and send the man back
for a thoughtfully forgotten umbrella and a book.
Mrs. Rylands, assisted up the garden^ path by Mrs-
McManus, was handed over to Vmclguerra at the
trysting place. He produced an excellent falsetto
and talked English as he helped his protectress into
There was tension, certainly there was tension, as
far as the Italian custom house at the roadside. But
the douaniers gave but a glance and motioned the
familiar car on with friendly gestures. A lurking
Fascist young gentleman, just too late, thought the
inspection perfunctory and was for supplementing it.
He called out "Alo!" after the car. That was the
greatest thrill. Parsons slewed his eye round for
orders. He hated foreigners who said "Alo" to him.
"Go on," said and signalled his mistress j "Go on!"
said Frant, sitting beside him, and he put his foot
down on the accelerator only too gladly.
She glanced back through the oval window at the
back of the car. The young Italian gentleman was
not pursuing. He had gone back to lecture the dou-
aniers on thoroughness no doubt.
The French douane was even less trouble* Bows
and smiles. Mrs. Rylands, that charming neigh-
bour, was welcome to France.
And this was all! They were purring smoothly
along the eastern sea front of Modane. People
promenading, people bathing. In bright sunshine, in
a free world. It was all over. The danger, the
"I have had to masquerade as a woman," said
Signor Vindguerra resentfully and took off the
glasses which blurred the world for him. "But I
am out of prison. I know I look ridiculous, I
know Dio mio ! "
He sobbed. Tears filled his eyes.
"II suo coraggio," he said, crushing her hand with
both of his. "Non dimentichero mai quel ch ? Ella
ha fatto per me* Never. Never."
"la two hours or less we will be in Cannes," said
Mrs. Rylandsj trying to save some of her hand.
"Then you shall be a man again. . . . Don't!
"1 should have been beaten. I should have died
like a dog. 33
He recovered abruptly. "This is absurd/' he said.
"Forgive me, dear Lady."
He was silent, but still intensely expressive.
"Don't you think this view of Cap Martin Is per-
fectly lovely?" said Mrs. Rylands. . . .
Just at that very moment Mrs. McManus and
Bombaccio confronted each other In the hall of Casa
"But I thought you had gone with the Signora!"
"There's some telegrams In Ventimiglia. We
thought of them at the last moment. I'll want the
second car for that. Then 1 shall go on by train."
"/ could have sent them on."
"What is that you've got In your hand there? a
pair of shoes?"
"They were found in the garden/' said Bombaccio*
"They were found In a trampled place tinder a rock
beneath the tennis court And these affari. Ecco!"
Bombaccio held them out} the decorative socks of a
man of the world but with a huge hole in one heel.
"What can they be? And where are the feet they
should have? Surely this is of the traddlttore! 11
"Some of him," reflected Mrs. McManus.
"Surely. His shoes and socks! Where did you say
they found them? ??
"Below the tennis court*' 1
"Very likely if you look about you 1 !! find some
more of him. He must have scattered to avoid them.
Unless they found him and tore him to pieces
quietly. But then they^d be all bloody. Will you be
ordering the car? For the eleven o'clock train."
Ahead of her the car with the fugitive ran swift
and smooth through Monte Carlo, Beaulieu, Ville-
f ranche, Nice, Antibes. At Cannes Mary Jex-Hilton
came running down the steps to receive her guest.
a You felt dull, you darling, and you came over to
us! The sweetest thing in the world to do I Trust-
"Fd a particular reason/ 3 said Mrs. Rylands, de-
scending and embracing. She collected her wits.
"Parsons, just help Frant with those bags into the
house and upstairs/*
Behind Parsons 5 back Frant turned round and
grimaced strangely to assure her mistress that the
chauffeur should be taken well out of the way,
a This nurse of mine, darling," said Mrs. Ry-
lands, turning to the quasi-feminine figure that sat
now in a distinctly heteroclitic attitude, bowing and
smiling deprecatingly, a is Signor Vbciguerra, the
great publicist He has barely escaped with his life
from over there, I will tell you how we found
him, being hunted, in the garden."
"My dear! And you saved him?"
Well, here he is!"
"You heroine! And it's Signor Vinciguerra!"
Mrs* Jex-Hilton held out her hand. a We met in
Milan* Two years ago ! You don't remember, but 7
do. Won't you get out? "
Mrs, Rylaads whispered. "He doesn't like walk-
ing about in these things. Naturally,"
Mrs. Jex-Hilton thought rapidly.
"I'll get Ted's bathing-wrap. It's just inside the
hall. It's more dignified. A toga."
It was true. The ambiguous nurse accepted the
wrap, arranged a fold or so and became a Roman
Senator, fit for the statuary. Except about the shoes
and ankles. The round bare face assumed a serene
and resolute civility. Signor Vinciguerra walked into
the house, a statesman restored.
It was easier and easier.
When at last Mrs. Rylands sat down in the pretty
white and green and chintz bedroom Mary had given
her, to write to Philip and tell him all about it, the
terror and stress of those dark moments in the garden
were already impossible to recall. It was incredible
that it should ever have seemed too mighty a task to
help this fugitive. She was disposed to see the whole
story now like some hilarious incident at a picnic.
And for a time, all the great and subtle things she
had thought about God and His infinite mightiness
and nearness, had passed completely out of her mind.
She knew she had much to write to Philip on that
matter also, but now it was impossible. What did
become clear presently was the grave import of the
things Vinciguerra had said in her little sitting-room.
about the suppression of intellectual activity in Italy
and the world. That stood out quite plainly still.
She wrote of that*
Mrs. McManus arrived with the story of the shoes
and socks in the afternoon, later when she came
against Parsons in the garden, he regarded her with
"I say," he remarked. "Are you another nurse?* 51
"What nonsense! There^s never another about
"But wasn't there another just now with
"I could have sworn. . . . Rummy! You look,
"It's the air/ 5 said Mrs. McManus.
Little more was left to clean up of the Vinciguenu
adventure. He was to lie <perdu with the Jex-Hil-
tons for two or three days and then make his way
to Geneva where he could appear in public and per-
haps talk to an interviewer. It would be amusing to
cast suspicion on Mont Blanc and suggest unsuspected
passes in Savoy. It would help to divert any sus-
picion that might have fallen upon Casa Terragena.
There still seemed some slight danger of leakage in
the household, however. When presently Mrs. Ry~
lands returned to her home, Frant found Bombaccio-
in a much too inquiring state of mind for comfort.
It was almost as if some one had slept in a rug on
the Signer's bed} and had any one tampered with his
shaving things? Who had consumed the better part
of half a litre of brandy? And made crumbs in the
Signer's room? Then He showed Frant the
mysterious shoes and socks, and sent his eloquent eye-
brows up and the corners of his still more eloquent
mouth down. He explained them and thought Frant
was densely stupid. "After that," said Bombaccio^
a a man could not go far." He had shown them to
no one else Fraat elicited, but what ought he to do
about them? He watched her closely as he spoke.
He eyed her almost mesmerically. She did not
watch him at all she observed him with a wooden
averted face. Then she reported adequately to her
mistress. Mrs. Rylands decided to deal with Bom-
She found him arranging the newspapers In the
downstairs room. She went past him and out upon
the blazing terrace and then called him to her.
"How beautiful the garden is this morning/* she
Bombaccio was touched by this appeal for xsthetic
sympathy and confirmed her impression richly and
"Adam and Eve/* she interrupted, "were put into
a garden even more beautiful than this 5?
Bombaccio said that we were told so but that he
found it difficult to believe.
"They were turned out/ 3 said Mrs. Rylands.
Bombaccio ? s gesture deplored the family fall.
"They were turned out, Bombaccio^ for wanting
to know too much."
Bombaccio started and regarded her as man to
woman, through a moment of impressive silence.
"There is nothing in the world the Signora might not
trust to me/' he said "Have I ever been disloyal
even in the smallest matter to the famiglia Rylands?*
"No/ 3 said Mrs. Rylands, and acted profound de-
liberation. She laid a consciously fragile hand on
"I will trust you to do the most difficult thing of
all, Bombaccio. For man or woman. That Is not
even to ask questions. As hard as that For ques-
tions you understand are like microbes 5 they are lit-
tle things, but if you scatter them about, they may
cause great misfortunes.**
She added, almost as if Inadvertently: "Signer
Rylands had reasons to be very grateful to Signor
PHILIP'S FOURTH REAL LETTER
Vinciguerra. It would have been sad If anything had
happened in this garden to one to whom we are in-
Bombaccio ? s bow, finger upon his lips, put the last
seal upon her security.
MRS. RYLANDS had been back in Casa Ter-
ragena two days before the succession of
little notes and cards from Philip was broken
by a considerable letter again, this time a whale of
letter, opening with a long account of the return of
the prophet Sempack to his own home. This account
seemed to have been written some days ago $ the
handwriting and paper were different from those of
the latter sheets.
It presented that large untidy person in his own
distinctive setting. Philip's curt, clumsy and occa-
sionally incisive sentences, breaking now and then into
a new-won fluency, portrayed Sempack like a big but
prostrate note of interrogation, lying athwart the
whole world. He had been rather more hurt it
seemed than the doctors had at first supposed. There
was a troublesome displacement of a wrist bone and
there was something splintered at the end of a rib.
Philip had had to wait longer than he had expected
while X-ray examinations and a minor operation were
carried out, and he had taken the great man down not
in his own Talbot but in a special ambulance car to
his home in Dorsetshire.
Philip was evidently surprised by Sempack's home.
"I had expected something very ordinary, something
like a small, square, serious house taken out of Clap-
ham, with a rather disagreeable and unwilling house-
keeper," he wrote, "but as a matter of fact he has
done himself extremely well. In a compact but very
pretty way." Apparently it was a house built spe-
cially for its occupant on the slopes and near the crest
of the long hill that runs between Corf e and Stud-
land 5 Brenscombe Hill said the notepaper. "There
are no other houses about there, which is like him
somehow, and also along the hogsback above him
there are groups of tumuli, which is also in a way
characteristic. He always straddles back to pre-his-
tory. If ever the man picked up a flint implement
he would do so as if he had just dropped it."
The house was small but lined with books, it spread
itself to the light, and the hill and a group of trees
checked the burly assaults of the south-west wind,
He worked before a big plate-glass window with a
veranda outside, facing north of the sunrise. "It's
got a tremendous view. Stretches of heath and then
the tidal flats of Poole Harbour, blue razors of sea
cutting their way through green weed-banks and grey
mud-banks to Poole and Wareham and tumbled bits
of New Forest to the north j with Bournemouth and
its satellites low and flat across the waters, lighting
up in the twilight. It is like old Sempack to have a
window with a view that goes away into distance be-
yond distance for miles and miles and which has
differences of climate, clouds or sluggish mists here
and sunshine there. C I can see thunderstorms gather
and showers pass/ he told me, *as if they were ani-
mals wandering across a field*'
"There's a Mrs. Siddon, a sort of housekeeper who
can typewrite on occasion, a woman with an inter-
esting face and a quiet way with her~-ovcr some-
PHILIP'S FOURTH REAL LETTER
thing that smoulders. Evidently she adores him.
She has the instincts of a good nurse. There is a
charming little girl of ten or twelve about the place,
with whom Sempack is on the best of terms, who
belongs to hen Sempack vouchsafed no explana-
tions, but I have a sort of feeling that behind the
housekeeper is a story. Though he said nothing, she
dropped a phrase or so. It distressed and moved her,
more than it would move any one who was just a
common or garden paid servant, to get him back in
a broken condition. She liked me from the outset
because it was so plain I cared for him, and in the
emotion of the occasion her natural reserve gave way
a little. She has some tremendous cause for gratitude
to him. She was ripe for confidences, but I thought
it wasn't my business to provoke them. I guess and
infer that somewhen she had 'done something/ some-
thing pretty serious, I could imagine even a law
court and something penal just a phrase or so
of hers for that and he had fished her out of
the mess she was left in and treated her like any
other honourable individual. Put her on her feet
when she was down and said nothing much about
doing it. That may be all imagination on my part,
but anyhow our Sempack has a home, which I never
suspected; is extremely comfortable, which is still less
what I thought} is tenderly looked after and sits
among a loveliness, an English loveliness of rain and
green and grey and soft sunlight, which in its way is
almost as lovely as the glorious blaze, the stony
magnificence, the vigour and strength of colour of
dear old Terragena.
u l stayed three nights there and I may go down
there again if it can be squeezed in before I come back
to you. He can ? t write much. He's one-armed and
one-handed for a time. He ? s rigged up on a com-
fortable couch before his big window and he lies
watching the late English spring turn into the mild
English summer. A pocket-handkerchief garden is
f oregroundj and then comes all that space. This ac-
cident of his, the inaction that is necessary, and the
other things that have happened to him recently and
the way social and political things are going in the
world seem all to have conspired to make him turn
upon himself and his life and ask himself a lot of new
questions. Like the questions we are all asking our-
selves. He put it himself better than 1 can put it.
He compared it to travellers going up into big moun-
tains. For a long time you see the road fur ahead,
plain and sure. Then almost suddenly you realise
that there is a deep valley, a gorge perhaps, you never
expected. You come out upon it and you look down,
and you lose heart."
Philip, his wife reflected, was learning to write
and learning very rapidly. This would have been
impossible a few weeks ago. Quick wits he had when
he gave them a chance. He had evidently been read-
ing widely and the uncertainty of his spelling was
vanishing. All his latent memories of the look of
words were reviving. There must be thousands of
people, she reflected, who needed only sufficient stim-
ulation to be released in this fashion from the sort
of verbal anchylosis that had kept him inexpressive*
He went off into the question of Sempack's love
affair with lady Catherine, A note of wonder that
anything so mature and ungainly could think of pas-
sionate love appeared in what he wrote- "We walk,
my dear Cynna, in a world of marvels unsuspected.
PHILIP'S FOURTH REAL LETTER
It is only now that I begin to realise that people of
fifty or sixty even, may still fall in love. And be
horribly mortified when it doesn't come off." Much
more did Philip marvel that any one could fall in
love with Lady Catherine. It threw a new light on
Cynthia's world for her to read her husband's un-
affected astonishment that this marvellously lovely
person could captivate any one. "He must be blind/'
wrote Philip, a to things that are as plain as one-
times-one~is-one, to me." The young man went on
with a lucidity that was bracingly brutal. "I cannot
imagine any one loving her. I can't imagine any one
making love to her honestly. Lots of us, Cynna
dear, can make love to all sorts of women., and the
game is so attractive that there is a certain effort
needed not to wander down that bye way. But I
mean loving her for good and keeps and both ways.
I can't imagine that."
Just as well, she reflected, for husband and wife to
be perfectly frank and open about these things.
"But Catherine doesn't want love or even good
honest lust; she wants drivelling mutual exaggera-
tion. *You and I be heroine and hero' sort of busi-
ness. She's got nothing to give any one but the sensa-
tions of being dressed up as Richard Coeur de Lion in
a fancy dress ball. You couldn't even laugh with
her. She was made up by Nature and painted when
she was born. Not a natural endearment. Not a
shadow of tenderness. Pose and swagger. Love in a
glare. She and her transmogrified Armenian,
Fearon~0wen, pretending to be a lofty British aristo-
crat, are a fair match- Their great moments are when
they come into rooms where there are a lot of people.
Conspicuous is the climax. If she couldn't be a
whore she'd be a hoarding. So as to be looked at.
What a man of Sempack's quality can see in her
beats me altogether. What did he see in her? I
don't believe he ever saw her. I believe she just
stripped for action and threw herself at him and he
saw something he had very properly forgotten for
years, highly illuminated by the Italian sun the
female of the species. And he fell right back
among the elements from which we all arose,
strutted, started off to crow. And lo! the hen wasn't
looking any longer, 5 *
Philip was shrewd there, his wife thought, and
what followed seemed still shrewder.
"He was at loose ends with his work and worried
about the state of the world, and active imaginations
in distress fall back upon love affairs just as nervous,
under-vitalised people fall back upon brandy. He
was exposed to her. She went through the motions
of falling in love with him; and as no one else, or at
any rate no one else in her class of conspicuous beauty,
had ever gone through those motions at him before,
I suppose it came to him as a tremendous reminder
of things he'd put away out of his thoughts for ages.
She humbugged him, to be plain about It, that he
had made a conquest* To pass the time while she
quarrelled with Fearon-Owen. And as a sort of re-
venge and consolation against Fearon-Owen. She
lifted him up and then she heard Fcaron-Owcn
whistle and she let him down, and his humiliation
has been immense. Immense* His feelings are as
slow and as massive as he is. I have things he had
said to me to confirm these interpretations. They
haven^t just sprang unbidden in my mind. *You are
lucky,* he said to me, praising you. c You are happy*
PHILIP'S FOURTH REAL LETTER
You've got the personal thing in your life, the har-
bour of pride, safe and sure. It doesn't come to us
all.' Then he fell back on his stock consolation just
now. 'Your danger/ he said, 'will be contentment.
It is easier to attack great masses of work if one has
a kind of hunger deep in one's soul.' And a little
later, still envious, he said: 'Every one would like
to play the part of the junior lead and be the happy
lover. What is the good of hiding what we all de-
sire? Every man, Rylands, dreams of being a lord
of love. That is what we were built for in the be-
ginning. Our endocrines cry out for it. Everything
else is an adaptation and a perversion.' Compensa-
tion! That was his great word. All vigorous scien-
tific and literary work, he declared, was a 'compensa-
tory effort 7 for what he called the 'fundamental frus-
tration.' He made a sort of melancholy joke about
it and said that if we were going to make every one
healthy and happy and satisfied in the future we
might have to create philosophers and savants by am-
putating a leg or forcing the spinal column into a
curvature, or some such soul-awakening mutilation.
All that is nonsense fundamentally, but it expressed
"Queer that so great a man should have to delude
himself by such inventions. Queer to think how dif-
ferent we are, he and I. Surely I am as full of
what shall I call it? public-spirited drive and get
something big and general done, as he is. Surely I
am. But I don't see that I lead a thwarted disap-
pointed personal life. I don't see that as a bit neces-
sary. Am I not a happy husband and a happy lover,
and rich and free? Where do the elements of limita-
tion and where does this necessity for sublimation and
compensation appear in my case? He was just ill and
sore enough, I fancy, to think only of himself ^ and
to ignore how things were with me. The truth is of
course that he would be a philosopher and a pioneer
of progressive ideas if he had never had a trace of
humiliation in his life, if personally he had been as
beloved and splendid as Solomon in all his glory.
But the one thing comes in happily to nurse the
wounds of the other. That is how it is with him."
Mrs. Rylands put the letter down for a moment
and thought. Then she looked at certain phases in
the handwriting again. Did Philip get all his heart's
desire? Could he ever? How far was his life too
now heading for restraint and self -suppression?
Heart's desire can be discursive and change from day
to day. Should heart's desire be imprisoned or left
free to wander and return? She pulled up oa the
edge of a reverie and resumed her reading,
After all, Philip considered, this rather grotesque
love disappointment and the collision with the omni-
bus were neither of them the main cause of Sem-
pack's troubled mind. They had merely tapped the
ladened stratum and released the distress. ^ The
broader disappointment was the vast unanticipated
valley of reaction that now yawned before him, be-
fore this confident preacher of Progress. Progress
which had walked with such assurance, had hung ar-
rested by the war and was now only staggering for-
ward. "Has it ever occurred to you," wrote Philip,
"that Sempack could be an indolent man? lie says
he is* Immensely indolent? Did he say it to you?
Probably he did because he harps on it so much. By
saying it over repeatedly he has brought me some way
to seeing him from his own point of view. To read,
PHILIP'S FOURTH REAL LETTER
talk, discuss, write, to hear criticisms, discuss, read in
new directions and write again,, has been after all just
the easiest line of living for him. Catherine it seems
had chanced to get her fingers through exactly that
joint in his armour. She taunted him with it when
he was already troubled by doubts* His present ill-
ness is quite as much his dismay at the prospect of
having to change his loose studious way of life for
some new kind of exertion, hurry, disputes, dangers,
etc., as it is either broken rib or broken heart. His
main trouble is getting acclimatised to a new point of
Philip and Sempack seemed to have talked for
most of the time on that veranda that looked north
of the sunrise. A phrase here and an illusion there
conveyed the picture of Sempack sprawling ungainly,
"like some Alpine relief map," beneath a brown
camePs-hair rug upon his couch, talking still of that
wonderful better time that was coming for an eman-
cipated mankind, but talking also of the age of revo-
lutionary conflict that was opening now and had to be
lived through before ever the millennium could be
won. The millennium was an old-fashioned theme,
but the intervening age of battle and effort and the
chances of defeat were new admissions. It was as if
the facts wrung themselves out of him.
The talk must have rambled and Philip's memo-
randa rambled too. The writing varied. It was not
clear whether he had written all this in Sempack's
house or somewhere on his way to London. But
the main, conception that emerged was that the prog-
ress of liberal thought and of world development
in accordance with liberal thought which had been
practically free and unhampered for a century was
now threatened with restriction and arrest, and had
to be fought for and secured. Sempack spoke as
one who belonged to the Nineteenth Century, and
Philip added the note that "by his reckoning that
means 1815 to 1914." Throughout this Nineteenth
Century it seemed discussion had grown more free
and bolder with every year. Towards the end one
might propose, one might suggest almost anything.
One might do so because throughout that age there
had been no fundamental changes and people had
come to believe there could be no fundamental
changes. Liberal thought was free and respected
because it appeared to be altogether futile. No one
grudged the Great Thinker his harmless intellectual
liberties. It was not until the second Russian revolu-
tion that this attitude came to an end. Then the
ordinary prosperous man who had been disposed to
tolerate every sort of idea and even to pat every
sort of idea on the head as he chanced across it, dis-
covered an idea that could turn and bite his hand.
He discovered that projects for fundamental change
might even produce fundamental changes.
Wilson also, Sempack thought, had frightened
people with his League of Nations* There was hope
and dismay everywhere in the world in 1919* Peo-
ple, great numbers of people, came to realise that
what all these socialists and prophets of progress had
been talking about might really begin to happen.
There might actually be a world government which
wouldn't so much "broaden out" from existing gov-
ernments, as push them aside and eat them up* For
a League of Nations was either a super-government
or a sham* The British Empire and La France and
Old Glory had in actual fact to go the way of the
PHILIP'S POURTH REAL LETTER
Heptarchy, if this League fulfilled its promise.
They had to be deprived of the sovereign right to
war. And equally there might really be a new sort
of economic life coming into existence. We might
find ourselves positive, participating shareholders in
a one world business, and all our individualism gone.
Conduct was amenable to direction, with regard to
health and work and all sorts of things, to an extent
never suspected before the days of war propaganda
and regimentation. Population might really be
stanched and controlled. It was no dream. It was
hard for most people to decide whether this was to
be treated as a mighty dawn or the glare of the last
And that he held was where we are still to-day.
Still in doubt. The dreams of yesterday have be-
come our urgent questions, our immediate possibili-
ties. ^ It stared every one in the face. Philip, either
quoting or paraphrasing or extending Sempack, it was
not clear which, went on to an amusing analysis of
how the confrontation of a whole world with a com-
mon revolutionary possibility had reacted on differ-
ent types of character. Some were for leaping head-
long into the new phase, were prepared to discover
It new-born and already perfect even in Moscow and
Canton j many were terrified by the practical strange-
ness of it and bolted back to reaction. A lot did not
want to be bothered. That was the common lot.
They wanted to go on with their ordinary occupa-
tions like rabbits in a hutch eating lettuce when the
stables they are in are on fire. Nobody saw yet what
a gigantic, comprehensive, unhurrying, "non-return-
able** thing world reconstruction must be; those who
sought it saw that least of all. |We were living in
a period of panic and short views both ways. Fas-
cism was panky the present Tory government of
Great Britain was panic, the people of Moscow were
clinging, just as desperately as any westerns > to
theories and formulae they knew were insufficient,
making Gods of Marx and Lenin and calling a halt
to thought and criticism. The New Model of the
Revolution^ steadfast and sure of itself, always per-
sisting and always learning, had still to appear.
" ^Clamour, conflict and muddle/ " quoted Philip,
" *and so it must be until the great revolution has
ceased to be a reverie, has passed through its birth
storms and become the essential occupation, the guid-
ing idea 3 the religion and purpose of lives like yours,
lives like your wife ? s, all that is left of lives like
mine and of a mighty host of lives. The socialist
movements of the nineteenth century, the commu-
nist movement^ are no more than crude misshapen,
small anticipations of the great revolutionary move-
ment to which all lives, all truly living human be-
ings, must now be called. A new religion? It is that*
To be preached to all the world.
ac ls this demand enormous and incredible? 1 he
" *I said that to me it was enormous but not in-
a *If it is incredible/ said he, *there is nothing
worth having before mankind? **
From that point on Philip cited Scmpack hardly at
all and wrote, as it were, for himself. He had ac-
cepted and digested his Sempack and was even per-
haps thinking ahead of him ? crossing his /s for htrn
and dotting his &. He enlarged on this conception
of revolution planned and wilful, as the coming
PHILIP'S FOURTH REAL LETTER
form of mental existence. The scale of life was
altering., and the new movement from the outset
must needs be very great, greater than any other
movement that has ever sought to change the gen-
eral way of mankind. One thought of the out-
standing teachers and founders of the past as mighty
figures, but this movement must be far mightier in
its ambition. The days when a single Buddha and a
little group of disciples could start out to change the
human soul, or a single Mohammed establish the
rule of Allah on earth, or a single Aristotle set all
science astir, had passed by. Countless men and
women must serve as men and women served
science and none be taken as a figurehead. This
new world cult would have an infinitude of parts
and aspects but it must never lose itself in its parts.
It must be held together by a common confession and
common repudiations. Its common basis must be
firstly the history of all life as one being that grew
in wisdom and power, and secondly the completest
confidence in the possibility of the informed will to
comprehend and control. Such ideas were spreading
already like a ferment throughout the world.
^It was just because this world religion, blind
still and hardly more aware of itself than a new-
born puppy, was nevertheless astir and crawling and
feeling its way about, that reaction and suppression
were everywhere becoming aggressive and violent.
With the soundest instinct they were impelled to kill
the new world if it could be killed before it accu-
mulated the impetus that would abolish them. It
is not only those who desire it who see the great
order of the world at hand, but they also, those others
who apprehend it as the shadow of a new state of
affairs utterly unpropitious to and prohibitive of all
their pride and advantages. They too believe it is
possible and near. Violent reaction is the first cat's-
paw to every revolutionary storm. And so for all
further progress those who are progressives will have
to fight, have to organise for defence as well as
aggression. It is a fight for the earth and the whole
world of man. Who can live in peace, who can be
let alone, in the midst of such a war? Who can be
permitted the immunities of a friendly neutrality?
The forces of reaction are not more powerful now
but more manifest, more active and militant because
only now do they begin to feel the strength and the
full danger of the creative attack. To that effect
Philip had written though more discursively. He
halted, he went back, he repeated himself several
times j but she gathered his meaning together. It
was Sempack written out again in the handwriting of
a very young man and touched with a nervous wil-
lfulness that was all Philip's own.
There came a break in Philip's letter. When it
resumed it was on the South Street notcpapcr. He
was back ia London. Sempack upon his couch at
the window was no longer the presiding figure of the
discourse. He was far away in Dorset, so far, so
lost in perspective as presently to be invisible and
disregarded. Philip had found his wife's letter about
the Vinciguerra escapade waiting for Mm upon his
"What a stir amidst the glories of Casa Terra-
gena/ ? he wrote, "and what a plucky front you seem
to have shown! You write as If it was all a lark,
but I think you must have been pretty plucky not to
PHILIP'S FOURTH REAL LETTER
scuttle Indoors and have the shutters closed and the
bolts shot when the shooting and shouting began.
Reaction chasing Liberalism with intent to kill,
among the magnolias, under the palms ? amidst moon-
light and fireflies. This is theory coming home to
us with a vengeance. But there you are ! The fight-
ing is going on already, the old order takes the offen-
sive offensive defensive and men are being
hunted and wounded and killed in the name of na-
tions and tyrannies. Damn those fellows! If I had
been there that night there would have been some
shooting. I would have had them out of the gardens
faster than they came in or there would have been
memorable events. I tingle at the thought, the sort
of chaps we had to stiffen after Caporette! I don't
know whether it is liberalism or temper, but I'll
be drawn and quartered if I don't show all the fight
there is in me against these stupidities and violences
and oppressions on the part of the second rate, doing
their best to crush hope out of the world. Just as
a My dear, Fm for fighting. That little invasion
of our decent garden has stirred me like a trumpet.
And after poor old Vinciguerra of all people!"
"All the time that I have been away from you
I have been thinking over myself and over my world
and over our life as it spreads before us. I believe
that this project of a sort of continuing resolute push
towards one world system, is a feasible project and
the most sporting and invigorating invitation that
has ever been made to mankind. I want to go in
for it with everything Pvc got. I want to give my-
self to it for your sake and my sake and for every
reason in the world, and if I find little chaps in black
shirts or black coats or red coats starting in to stop
me or my sort of people from going the way we
mean to go, it's one of our lots will have to get
right off the earth. What else is possible? How
can we live in the same world with these castor-oil
cads and their loaded canes? Still less with their
cockney imitators! . . .
a This isn't mere wilfulness on my part. . . ."
The handwriting changed as if the letter had been
left and resumed.
"There are damnable threads in me though they
hide from you as wood-lice bolt from the sun. If
I do not go this way then for all I can tell 1 may
go the other way and end another Uncle Robert.
And I dread coming to be like the Right Honourable
Baron more than any Calvinist ever feared hell.
"But if we are to give ourselves to this Revolution
of Sempack 5 s, the great revolution of the whole
world, as one religion, as one way of life, it means a
new way of living for us both, dearest wife. For us
and for that Dear Expectation of ours. 1 do not sec
us, serving the great order of the world from the
drawing-room of Casa Terragena. I do not sec our
child or our children living aloof from this huge
conflict in an enchanted garden. A Rylands,
Neither from your side nor from mine is that sort
of offspring possible. If we are going to realise
the teaching of the prophet Sempacfc, there must
be an end to Casa Terragena. We must give it over
to the botanists if they will take It and send off Bom-
baccio to seek his fortunes in America*
The common English are our people and to Eng-
land we must comej either to London because it is
our natural centre or to Edensoke because It is our
dominion* We must use our position In the Rylands
properties to learn and experiment and find out if
we can how to turn round the face of the whole sys-
tem towards the new order. All our surplus wealth
must go into the movement, and the spending of that
we must study as closely as dear Uncle Edensoke
studies his investment coups. No Rylands ever
threw money away and I don 5 t mean to begin. You
don ? t see me pouring my little accumulations into
the party funds of L. G. or Ramsay Mac. I shall
probably begin by acquiring newspaper properties,
and if I can make them do their duty by the move-
ment and pay so much the better. Then I shall
have funds for the next thing. That will be organi-
sation. I shall work like hell. That is the new,
hard, serious, fighting, straining, interesting and
satisfying life we have to face, my darling, and I am
glad we have found it while we are still young.
I no more doubt your courage to face it than I doubt
that the sun can shine. We'll show all these infernal
Tories, stick-in-the-mud liberals, labour louts and la-
bour gentilities, loafers and reactionaries, what two
bright young people can do in the way of shoving
at the wheels of progress. Well be such disciples of
Sempack that well put his wind up. Well start the
move. We'll lug him out from his dreams into
reality blinking. . . . This house here in South
Street, the agents say, will let quite easily. 77
The letter ended abruptly.
FOR some days a great indolence had enveloped
Mrs. Rylands, a lassitude of mind and body.
She lay in bed now and thought over Philip's
letter, so bold, tumultuous, and alive in this shad-
owed peace. The sheets lay on her counterpane and
seemed to emit faint echoes o riot and battle. Quite
certainly that night he would have gone out raging
into the garden and fought. What else could he
have done? He would have rescued Vinciguerra
violently. Men might have been killed perhaps and
everything would have been different. Well, she
was glad that had not happened. But his letter was
good, quite good, and he would keep his word, she
felt, and play to win his games as old Edensoke
won his games, but with great ends in view and his
soul alive. It was good, but for all that just now
that letter fatigued her and she made no attempt
to read it over again once she was through with it.
It was all right with Philip. For a time things
must rest on that.
Life was a very pursuing thing. She recalled the
figure of Sempack, so prone to fall into inactive
poses, and how combative necessity, with a face
singularly like Philip's, was forcing its way through
his reluctant and comprehensive wisdom. She loved
Philip, she had instigated Philip to give himself to
these storming purposive activities, but just now also
there was a shadowy resentment that he drove her
along the path she herself had indicated* In her
present mood Philip's energy blended in thought
with the kicking, struggling energy within, behav-
ing already like another Philip eager to get at
issue with the world. She thought of" her child still
as It, and marvelled how little she had pictured its
individuality or troubled about its outlook* She had
questioned Mrs. McManus and learnt how wide-
spread was this Imaginative indifference of expectant
mothers. She had had a few dreams of something
infantile and delightful flitting about the great gar-
den, but they were always shadowy, and now it
seemed that It was not to spend its childhood in the
garden. Philip said they were to leave Casa Terra-
gena. He, she and It. She did not want to leave
Casa Terragena. She did not want to leave this
room and this bed any more.
She knew this was a mood. She knew that when
the time came she would leave Casa Terragena with
a stout heart. Philip was her mate and captain and
leader and whither he led she would go. But this
afternoon she saw that without emotion, as an ac-
cepted fact of her circumstances and moral nature.
The garden had become very dear to her in these
last few weeks, very close and significant. Here it
was that she had first experienced that sense of God
at hand that comforted and sustained her now so
mightily. She would be loth to leave the place. But
God could be apprehended in many places. And she
There was something here that her mind made
an effort to retain and examine. This apprehension
of God was a matter about which she had to write
to Philip. She had never told him about it. It was
very secret and difficult to tell. For some days she
had been brooding upon that. Yesterday and the
day before she had had a peculiar disposition to put
things tidy- She wanted everything in order, apple-
pie order. She had made Frant unpack her clothes
and linen from drawers and cupboards and helped
her to replace it with a meticulous precision. She had
put her writing desk in order and tapped her row
of little reference books into the exactest line. The
green leather book had been minutely corrected and
at last her mind had settled upon the one conclusive
act of tidying up that remained for her to do ? to ex-
plain to Philip about her God. But she was as lazy
now as she was orderly. She had no sooner taken a
sheet of paper to write than she decided to lie down*
A queer disturbing sensation had come to her when
she had posed herself to write^ a novel challenging
sensation. She would rest a little while and then she
It was very important that Philip should hear
from her about her God. It was the one thing
wanting, she found, in his latest letters. They
seemed so hard and contentious, quarrelsome was
the wordj they were quarrelsome and aggressive, be-
cause they lacked any sense of this mighty serenity
that was behind and above and about all the details
and conflicts of life. Philip had discovered the im-
perative of right-living, but he had still to perceive
the Friend aitd Father who made all right things
right "Friend and Father" one said, and a I Ic/ 1 but
these were words as ineffectual as a child's clay
models of loveliness and life* One said "He w be-
cause there seems to be more will and purposivencss
in a Hc ?> than in She or It, but for all that it was a
misleading pronoun, cumbered with the suggestion
of a man* This that sustained the world for her,
was not a person, but infinitely more than a person.
As a person is more than a heap of stuff* And still
one had to say "He!*
Soon now and very near to her was the crisis of
maternity. She knew that to bear a child for the
first time is more dangerous than to follow the
most dangerous of trades. Irrational things may
happen* Yet she felt JDIO dismay at this
storm that gathered for her. For some time now
her mind had been tranquil as it had never been tran-
quil in her life before* It had been as though she
drifted swiftly on a broad smooth stream that poured
steadfastly towards a narrow gorge and inevitable
rapids. Fearlessly she had swept forward through
the days. On that unruffled surface everything was
mirrored with the peculiar brightness and clarity
of reflected things. Why was she not afraid?
Already there were eddies. The frail skiff of her
being had turned about and rocked once and again.
She could face it. She did not need Philip nor any
comforting hand. Philip was all right and she loved
him, but she did not mind in the least now that he
was far away. She had her comfort and her cour-
age ? in herself and all about her. She whispered:
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." She
looked at the sheets of Philip's letter within reach
of her fingers and withal it seemed ten thousand miles
away. All that was in suspense now and remote and
for a while quite unimportant j it could waitj for
the present she was with God. So near, so palpably
near was He to her that her whole being swam in
His. He would be with her in the darkness} He
would be with her amidst the strangeness and pain.
Something stirred within her and she put out her
hand and took the little green leather book that lay
on her bedside table. She had to tell all that to
Philip. And it was so difficult to tell Philip. Now.
Difficult to tell Philip at any time. She would set
something of it down if she could in case For
some reason her hand was out of control but she con-
trived to scribble the words that sustained her:
a Though He slay me,, yet will I trust in Him."
There came a sudden pain, an unaccustomed urgent
pain, that made her set aside her writing hurriedly
and press the little bell-push that would summon
Mrs. McManus to the fray. The green leather book
fell on the floor, disregarded.
The rapids had begun.
IN the evening when his account of Sempack at
home was well on its way to his wife, Philip sat
down and reflected upon what he had written to
her. He tried to recall the exact wording of certain
passages. He had written with a certain excitement
and hurry. How would it affect her? He imagined
her receiving it and reading it.
He pictured her as he had sometimes seen her
reading books, very intent, turning the pages slowly,
judging, pausing to think with a peculiar character-
istic stillness. Her eyes would be hidden; you would
just see the lashes on her cheek* So he remem-
bered her reading in their garden. How* clear and
lucid was her mind, like a pool of crystalline water.
He thought about the life he had led with her $o
far and the life they were going to lead together.
He thought of the way in which all his interests and
purposes had been turned about through her unpre-
meditated reaction upon his mind. He thought of
the way in which fragility and courage interwove to
make her at the same time delicate and powerful.
So that for all that she was to him the frailest, most
fastidious and inaggresslve of women, she was plainly
and surely his salvation. A wave of gratitude swept
over his mind, gratitude for certain exquisite traits,
PHILIP COMES HOME
for the marvellous softness of her hair, for her smile,
for her fine hands and her characteristic movements,
for moments of tenderness, for moments when he
had seen her happy unawares and had rejoiced that
And as he thought of the steady, grave determina-
tion with which she must have set about this Vinci-
guerra business, of the touch of invincible humour
that he knew must have mitigated her fear and
steadied her mind, it was borne in upon him that
never in their life, never for one moment, had he
shown her the value he set upon her and given his
love full expression. This letter he had so recently
sent her was, he discovered abruptly, a shocking
letter, altogether the wrong sort of letter to send at
this time, full of his soul and his needs and his own
egotistical purposes and taking no heed of how things
might present themselves to her.
Was this the time to talk of leaving Casa Terra-
gena and fighting all the powers of confusion in the
world? Was this the time to foreshadow a harder
life in England? To wave flags of revolution in
her sickroom and blow bugle calls in her ear? She
would be ailing, she would be a little faint and fear-
ful, and she would be needing all her strength to face
this initial tearing crisis of motherhood that was now
so close upon hen And nothing from him but this
clamour for support! She helped him} yesj and he
took it as a matter of course. Now for the first time
he perceived how little he had ever troubled to help
her. That letter had gone, gone beyond recall, a day's
start it would have and no telegram could correct a
matter of tone and attitude, but he could at least
send another after it to mitigate its hard preoccupa-
tion with the future^ its hard disregard of any pos-
sible softening and fear in hen A love letter, it
would have to be, a rich and tender love letter. Not
mere "rubbidge" and caressing fun, but a frank and
heartening confession of the divinity for it was
divinity he found in hen Why do we lovers never
tell these things? The real things? Fie began to
search his mind for words and phrases to express his
gathering emotion, but these words and phrases were
difficult to find.
He sat down at his table and even as he pulled the
writing paper towards him a telegram came, a tele-
gram from Mrs, McManus,
A telegram so urgent it was, that he never wrote
that letter. His intentions remained phantoms but
half embodied in words which still flitted in his mind
during most of his headlong journey to Italy. Lat-
terly he had been finding far less difficulty in writ-
ing than at first; the necessity to affect whimsicality
and defend his poor phrasing with funny sketches
had disappeared, but now that it came to conveying
the subtle and fluctuating motives of his heart, simply
and sincerelyj no words, no phrases contented him.
Shadow and reflection and atmosphere, impossible to
convey. Phrases that seemed at the first glance to
say exactly what lie needed became portentous, ex-
cessive, unreal, directly they were definitely written,
down* For this business! "rubbidge/ 1 the little lan-
guage* peeping intimations and snatches of doggerel^
seemed better adapted than the most earnestly chosen
sentences. And still insufficient He was pervaded
by the idea that all his difference of spirit from the
common Rylands strain was a gift from her* "Wife
of my heart and Mother of my Soul" flitting Into his
PHILIP COMES HOME
thoughts like an inspiration, passed muster, and sat
down and in two minutes had become preposterous.
a You are my Salvation 55 became a monstrous ego-
tism, when one thought of it as written on paper.
But indeed she was his salvation, she was the light of
his life, for him she was not only the dearest but the
best of all things. Was he never to tell her these
intense and primary facts?
a My life hangs on yours. My soul dies with
yours. * . . We Rylands are things of metal and
drive, unless a soul is given us. . With you I
can be a living man. . . . It ? s Undine but the other
way about. . , ."
It was profoundly true but it would read like rant.
a The world is a thing of cold fat, opaque and
stupid, without your touch. You make it like a hand
held up to a bright light j one sees it then as nerve
and blood and life. . . . w
Would he never be able to tell her of such things
as this? Never say more than "Cinna-kins 5 * and
C pet wif t yy to this firm and delicate spirit that could
lead his by the hand? No better than dumb beasts
we are, all of us who love, using just "dear 3 ' or
*darling" as a dog must yap to express ten thousand
different things! "The fireflies must be back at
Terragena?" he wrote in this imagined letter, with
an impotent poetic desire to liken her quick vivid
thoughts, her swift deliberations, to those flashes in
the darkness, in their brightness and their constant
surprise. . , *
He was still thinking of that unwritten letter as
he came through the little sitting-room of Casa Ter-
ragcna to where she lay white and still, and looking
now smaller than she had ever looked before. The
weary little body curled up in that big bed reminded
him grotesquely of a toy dog. A thing for infinite
tenderness; "Wife, dear wife and mother of my
Soul!" Why had he never told her that?
a l was just going to write to her/* he whispered
to Mrs. McManus. "I was just going to write to
her. A real letter. I was sitting down to write.
That last one wasn't much good. And then your
That last one was there on the toilet table. He
saw it as he came in to her. That stupid heavy letter !
He threw himself down on his knees by the bed
and very gently put his arm over that fragile body*
"My darling!" he whispered. She had not seemed
to know that he had come, but now very lazily one
eye opened, searched its field of vision and regarded
him with an inexpressive stare.
"Cinna dear! speak to me."
"Dju finka vim?" she murmured, dropping the
aspirate from sheer inability to carry it. The eye
closed again. Still so heavy with anaesthetics.
"That's all right," said Mrs. McManus with an
experienced hand on the young master's shoulder.
"Now let her have her sleep out aad then ye can
call her darling to your heart's content* Aren't you
in the least bit curious to see what sort of first-born
son she's given you? A fine fine boy it is and sparring
at the world already with his little fists. There!
D'you hear him?"
"And she is out of the least bit of danger?" he
insisted, regardless of the Rylands* future*
"Just healthy fatigue* * . After all, it? $ a thing
a woman is made f or. 1 *